No love lost
Death is a closure. That is when a US national hero is paid tributes. But the full statement prepared for President Donald Trump on the death of Sen. John McCain was never sent out. Several officials believed the official White House statement, which went through an internal approval process, would be released at the time of the Arizona Republican's death. But the President was busy at his Virginia golf course. There were no plans for a televised statement on McCain's passing, which would have been routine under similar circumstances in other recent presidencies. His tweet did not mention McCain's military or Senate service or include any praise for the late Arizona Republican. Was this stand a result of the late Senator, who was twice a Presidential candidate, always calling a spade a spade? Trump detests criticism and it is no secret that there was no love lost between the two. Sources have it that, among others, White House chief of staff John Kelly and other staff urged the release of an official statement calling McCain a "hero" and praising him for his extensive service to the country but, sadly, in vain. Trump and McCain had a tense relationship and McCain was one of the administration's most outspoken Republican critics. After Trump's joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, in which Trump did not endorse US intelligence findings on Russian election meddling over Putin's denial, McCain said: "The damage inflicted by President Trump's naivete, egotism, false equivalence and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake." As a presidential candidate, Trump, who did not serve in the military himself and avoided the draft through a series of deferments, attacked McCain's record of service and said the Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war was "not a war hero" because he was captured. In May, it was reported McCain did not want Trump at his funeral. Following McCain's death, other members of the Trump administration, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, joined political leaders in the United States and around the world in heaping accolades on the senator, contrasting with the White House's response. On Twitter, first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence thanked and honoured McCain's service and offered condolences. And Trump's re-election campaign also released a statement offering condolences and urging Americans to remember McCain and his family, words that did not explicitly praise the senator. Tributes to McCain continued to pour in from former US presidents, members of Congress and foreign leaders while Trump golfed.