Evan Vucci, AP
President Donald Trump waves as he gets into his vehicle after arriving at Akron-Canton Airport for a fundraiser, Wednesday, March 20, 2019, in Canton, Ohio.

This week President Donald Trump has perplexed Washington, D.C. and the nation with his criticism of the late Sen. John McCain. It has been defined by our national media as a show of spite and jealousy. It is vintage Donald Trump and seems to be another example of extreme uncivil dialogue.

I don’t agree with the way President Trump is handling this, and I just cringe at some of his statements about McCain. On the other hand, there are at least two reasons for his complaints. But he discredits himself so much that his real, valid arguments against McCain do not come forward.

There is some truth in Trump’s favor that has not been widely reported. It was just revealed and acknowledged by one of McCain’s top associates that McCain did indeed distribute the largely false “dossier” to the media, which has been the basis for the Mueller commission and many of the attacks on Trump. The “dossier” was designed to destroy Trump, and it almost did. Why did McCain distribute a “dossier” he probably knew was false? And why did he give it to the media rather than the proper authorities? Why didn’t he ask Trump about its veracity first?

In my judgment, the truth is that my friend and seat mate John McCain was probably intensely jealous of Trump for having won the presidency. Jealousy is the most powerful motive in the United States Senate. Many people ran for the presidency, but Donald Trump won it. There is a natural level of jealousy among these contenders and the guy who finally got the big prize.

Or maybe McCain distributed the “dossier” in the national interest, in which case he should have taken it to the proper authorities. In any event, the unsealing of court records affirmed Trump’s suspicion that McCain had definitely distributed it. And Trump wanted to make that point to the American people.

The second reason for Trump being upset was the rejection of a carefully prepared Republican health care bill that was designed to replace the Affordable Care Act. Everyone thought McCain was on board, and he gave no sign that he was planning to vote against it. He walked into the Senate chamber, put his thumb down and voted against it, which destroyed the bill and denied the Republicans their “repeal and replace” promise.

Many thought he did this just to spite the President. Yes, Trump has been clumsily trying to express himself on this matter, but all the attention is focused on how awful Trump is to be picking on the dead McCain.

Just because a political figure is deceased does not mean he or she cannot be criticized. Trump is trying to explain to the American people how that false “dossier” got out and why the Republican replacement for Obamacare did not pass. He feels McCain caused both.

The American people knew Trump had the shortcoming of denigrating people when they elected him to the presidency, but they elected him president anyway. He is the president of the United States, and he has the right and the duty to explain himself. His two real reasons for criticizing McCain have been drowned out this past week.

What does all this turmoil in Washington mean to everyday people? One of the Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, of which I am a member, states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

Does that mean that we are to accept what our president, our Congress or our judges tell us? At what point do we disagree? This is not clearly defined. Sometimes we don’t know what the truth is. We must search in our heart and through prayers figure it out as best we can.

45 comments on this story

Donald Trump is our president. He has handled this situation badly and that makes for tension. But his underlying assertion is also true that McCain was destructive and petty. Somewhat analogously, Thomas Jefferson distributed false ads against John Adams, as those two otherwise fine men engaged in spiteful exchanges.

Our great republic survived the Jefferson/Adams dispute — and we will survive this bizarre Trump/McCain fight — but it has made for a strangely uncomfortable week in Washington and throughout our nation.