Sen. John McCain reportedly has made his feelings known about Donald J. Trump: He doesn’t want the president of the United States to attend his funeral, according to what the media are reporting.
That is Sen. McCain’s call. I won’t challenge it, nor should anyone else.
But let me put out just another perspective on this kind of antipathy and whether it should follow someone to the grave.
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was running for president when a gunman shot him to death on June 5, 1968. He sought to succeed President Lyndon Johnson, a man he detested with virtually every fiber of his being. What’s more, the feeling was so very mutual, as LBJ loathed RFK with equal fervor.
Sen. Kennedy was just 42 years of age when he died and likely didn’t give much thought to who should attend his funeral, let alone express it to anyone close to him.
RFK’s requiem took place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Among the attendees were President Johnson, along with first lady Lady Bird Johnson.
It was generally known in 1968 that Sen. Kennedy and President Johnson detested each other. I don’t recall in the moment much public discussion about whether the president should attend the funeral of his bitter political foe.
So, he did.
It begs the question, though, for the present day: Given Sen. McCain’s reported desire that Donald Trump stay away from his funeral, should the president honor the senator’s request when that sad day arrives?
The nature of today’s media climate suggests to me the president would be smart to stay away. Memories are long and my hunch is that Trump’s presence at a ceremony that would pay tribute to a war hero whose service he once denigrated would dilute the honor that Sen. McCain will so richly deserve.