On one hand, it would be easy, if not proper for us to let the late John McCain rest in peace with the respect befitting an American hero who lived an extraordinary life of service to our nation, as his family no doubt wishes for him, and to ignore a distasteful story into which his name was, unfortunately, dragged last week.
Because our respect for the man runs deep, however, we feel driven to offer our reaction.
On Saturday, the U.S. Navy confirmed what first was reported by the Wall Street Journal earlier in the week: The Navy received a request to shield the U.S. warship bearing the name of McCain from President Donald Trump's view during the president's recent visit to Japan. (The USS John S. McCain was named after McCain's grandfather and father, both Navy admirals; the Navy added the name of Arizona Sen. McCain to the ship in 2018.)
“A request was made to the U.S. Navy to minimize the visibility of USS John S. McCain, however, all ships remained in their normal configuration during the President’s visit," said a one-paragraph statement from Rear Adm. Charlie Brown, chief of Navy information, released by the Pentagon. The statement did not say who made the request, but the WSJ reported the request originated in the White House.
En route to South Korea on Sunday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters the White House military office made the request. In an appearance on Sunday's "Meet the Press," Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said "I absolutely believe it was probably somebody on the advance team" for President Trump's visit to Japan who made the request to the Navy.
"An advance team is hundreds of people," Mulvaney said. "The fact that some 23- or 24-year-old person on the advance team went to that site and said, 'Oh my goodness, there's the John McCain. We all know how the president feels about the former senator. Maybe that's not the best backdrop. Could somebody look into moving it?' That's not an unreasonable thing to ask."
It isn't? Really?
President Trump said he didn't know such a request was made, but in comments to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday also felt compelled to offer this: “I was not a big fan of John McCain in any way, shape or form. Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him, OK? And they were well-meaning. ..."
We do not know whether President Trump knew about the request or through his continued disparagement of McCain created an environment in which an individual or individuals within his White House felt it necessary to take it upon themselves to make such a request. But the fact someone asked the Navy if a warship full of sailors serving their country overseas could be moved because the president, the commander-in-chief, was "not a big fan" of a man whose name the vessel bears and who was a decorated wartime Navy pilot (among his honors were three Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts, two Legion of Merit awards, a Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross) and POW descended from Navy admirals is disgraceful.
It should anger all Americans, regardless of politics.