President Trump should have had a successful day touting the military, the economy, job creation, American weapons superiority, and his commitment to a robust military. Instead, when he visited the General Dynamics plant for an official presidential visit, he went on a five minute tirade against John McCain, a dead man.
That became the story.
President Trump’s $2 billion spending bill saved that plant and added hundreds of jobs in Lima, OH. He had a story to tell, but he stepped all over himself and, in the process, both he and his core supporters decided to fight yesterday’s battle against a dead man.
The dead man won because you can’t beat a dead man. Why? He’s dead. And Americans intuitively understand you don’t speak ill of the dead and it is impolite to attack a man six feet under, unable to defend himself, and unable to actually thank the President for the funeral.
Come on folks — like scratching an itch it may feel good, but it also has serious potential to lead to infection. President Trump already has the Republican base. Guess what? There are not enough of them to win the 2020 election.
Instead, President Trump is going to have to persuade non-core Republicans to vote for him. He has to do that by helping them move beyond their reasons for opposing him in 2016 and also help them process that the Democrats are more insane than he is.
But continuing this fixation with John McCain reminds a lot of conservatives who sat out 2016 why they sat it out. It also makes the President look crazier than any one of the Democrats. On top of that, it brings out the inner jackass of a lot of his supporters who love dancing on John McCain’s grave, calling the war hero a traitor. Lastly, it provides the media ample runway with which they can get away from the story the President’s team wants to tell.
Message discipline is something this White House needs to work on. Self-control is something this President needs to work on. Yes, I am voting for President Trump in 2020. But I see no reason to defend the indefensible. John McCain was an American war hero who served with distinction and honor both in the military and in the United States Senate, even if I often disagreed with him on policy positions. He is also dead. There’s no reason to keep digging up his memory to crap on it.