Even from beyond the grave, the late US Senator John McCain is helping to show up Donald Trump for who he really is.
The Scotsman would like to welcome the President of the United States of America ahead of next week’s state visit to the UK.
We’d like to, but cannot because the current holder of that exalted office is Donald Trump and, as we and others have pointed out before, he is a racist, a sexist and a serial liar, who is either a self-confessed, but unconvicted, sex criminal or one who thinks that falsely claiming he can sexually assault women with impunity is the way to impress the “locker room”.
The task of welcoming Trump to the UK falls to Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth; as Prime Minister and Head of State, it is their duty to do so, particularly given our need for a post-Brexit trade deal.
UK exports to the US totalled about £100 billion in 2016, while imports were £66bn, meaning we need them more than they need us. Trump sees himself as the ‘Great Dealmaker’ and if he doesn’t get what he wants, he’s prone to throwing up trade tariffs, with Mexico the latest target of his wrath.
Just as he did more controversially when he visited last year, Trump made clear his support for Boris Johnson as Prime Minister ahead of his arrival on Monday, saying both Johnson and Nigel Farage were “very good guys” and his “friends”. Farage talks a lot about the various supposed conspiracies of the “global liberal elite”, but the only word he objects to in that phrase is “liberal”. As demonstrated by the illegal activities of Vladimir Putin’s regime in aid of Trump in the 2016 US election, the ‘global illiberal elite’ is working hard to promote their cause around the world.
And that is why it is just as important for people in the UK to make clear their opposition to Trump as it is for our leaders to welcome him. By doing so, they will help prevent a Trump-like figure from rising to power here or at least dampen their Trumpian tendencies.
More than ever, the UK needs leaders like the late Republican Senator John McCain who, even from his grave, is showing up Trump for who he really is. It may be true that Trump did not know his staff asked for the USS John S McCain to be kept out of his sight during a recent visit to Japan. The fact they did demonstrates how well they know the pettiness of their boss. The US Navy ignored the request and its Chief of Information tweeted: “The Navy is proud of that ship, its crew, its namesake and its heritage.”
They have every reason to be. McCain was a navy pilot during the Vietnam War who was shot down, taken prisoner and tortured to the brink of suicide over a five-year period. Despite this, he refused early release offered after the Viet Cong discovered his father was a senior US naval commander.
During this time, Trump avoided conscription several times because he was a student and once because of a “bone spur” in his foot. However, in 2015, Trump had the temerity to say McCain was “not a war hero” because he was captured, saying “I like people who weren’t captured”. Trump’s main tactic is to attack his critics personally, rather than engage with their criticisms of him. In contrast, at a 2008 presidential election rally, McCain defended Barack Obama after one of his own supporters claimed the Democrat was untrustworthy and an “Arab”. “No ma’am ... he’s a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as President,” McCain said as the crowd voiced their surprise.
In a parallel universe, The Scotsman would have been pleased to welcome President John McCain and it is his ethos, not Trump’s, that our politicians should embrace.