When I first heard that Senator John McCain (R-AZ) explicitly stated that he did not want President Trump to attend his funeral, I was taken aback not only by his petty smallness but by the abrupt change of tune since his insistence that Obama be treated with respect simply because he occupied the Office of the President of these United States.

Asking President Trump not to attend was an extraordinary request because the lack of invitation to the sitting and duly-elected President to read a eulogy at the funeral would have been a significant rebuke.  And more than sufficient.  McCain chose the low road.

Even more surprising is the pointed exclusion from his funeral of former Alaska governor and his 2008 running mate, Sarah Palin.  Palin, whom McCain called in his 2008 concession speech “an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength,” quite literally breathed new life into his lackluster presidential campaign.

Had he not reined her in, he could well have beat Obama in ’08, and had she not endorsed and relentlessly campaigned for him in 2010, he may well have lost his Senate seat.

When it was earlier this year revealed that McCain regretted choosing Sarah as his running mate, I made the following observations:

Before making his announcement of Palin’s addition to his ticket, McCain’s campaign was stalled.  He was doing everything wrong, and there was no enthusiasm at all among Republican voters. President Bush, you may recall, was leaving office with truly abysmal numbers: at one point, his approval was just 25%.  McCain, though he tried to distance himself from Bush, was tied to him by his own voting record in the Senate.

Between his campaign bleeding aides and even his campaign manager and his confounding refusal to address Obama’s many many weaknesses and scandalous associations, McCain was on the fast-track to an historic drubbing.

It wasn’t until McCain named Palin as his VP that he took the lead against Obama for the first time.

. . . . Palin was frustrated with the McCain campaign because after she injected a much-needed boost they refused to let her speak her mind about Obama.

In 2010, Palin went out on a limb—flouting Tea Party supporters—and endorsed McCain’s Senate run.  She also went on the trail for him in Arizona, speaking to vast crowds, and doubtlessly earning him much support on her name alone (as she had in ’08).  Though she was no longer as popular or as powerful in 2016, she again chose to endorse McCain’s zillionth Senate run.

Despite her years of loyalty, however, McCain chose to exclude her from his funeral.  People broke the story:

President Donald Trump and former John McCain presidential running mate Sarah Palin are not invited to memorial services for the iconic Arizona senator, multiple sources tell PEOPLE.

“Two names you won’t see on the guest list: Trump and Palin,” says a Capitol Hill source with knowledge of funeral plans for McCain, who died of brain cancer Saturday at age 81.

“Invitations were not extended” to the two political figures, confirms Carla Eudy, a fundraiser who has worked with and been friends with the McCain family for decades.

. . . .  “Donald Trump and Sarah Palin were not served official notice outright,” says the source close to the McCain family. “I want to make that clear. It wasn’t a no-trespass order. They won’t be turned away by guards if they show up at the funeral.”

The stay-away messages were sent through intermediaries, the friend tells PEOPLE.

While we know from reports predating his death that McCain explicitly intended to exclude President Trump, it’s not yet known if he made the stipulation that Sarah be excluded.

The People report does suggest that the “request” to exclude former 2008 campaign staffers may have come from the family.

A source with knowledge of the funeral arrangements adds that several longtime McCain staffers were also removed from the invite list in recent days by Eudy.

The fundraiser, who helped plan the memorial services, did not specifically address where the requests originated, nor how they were conveyed.

Speculation in Washington, D.C., is that they came from “the family.”

“My guess is, it came from Cindy,” says a source close to the McCain family. “She is very protective of John’s memory and legacy. She’s also a grieving widow. I think she wants to get through this as best she can.”

Meanwhile, former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are busily fine-tuning their eulogies for McCain.  These will be delivered Saturday.

Obama’s former vice president Joe Biden has already delivered his eulogy as part of the four-day extravaganza McCain painstakingly prepared in the months leading up to his death.

USA Today reports:

“My name’s Joe Biden,” he opened as he took the podium. “I’m a Democrat, and I loved John McCain.” In a eulogy at his Arizona funeral, former Vice President Joe Biden gave deeply moving testimonies about the late Sen. John McCain – sometimes a political opponent and always a lifelong friend.

One standout from Biden’s remembrance: the “McCain code.” “It wasn’t about politics with John. You could disagree on substance,” Biden said. “It was about the underlying values that animated everything John did.”

Biden also spoke of the senator’s call for civility and respect in the era of partisanship and divisiveness. “John believed so deeply and so passionately in the soul of America,” the former VP added. As for their personal relationship, Biden called McCain a brother, and, yes, that means they “had a hell of a lot of family fights.”

Somehow McCain’s exclusion of President Trump and of Sarah Palin doesn’t quite speak of inclusion, civility, respect, or of a passionate belief in the soul of America.  But maybe it’s just me.


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