In the first two days after John McCain’s death, President Trump limited himself to a few tweets attacking the media, and one brief missive expressing his sympathies to the senator’s family. Then he spent the rest of the weekend at his golf course in Virginia.
That’s about as restrained as Trump gets, and he couldn’t keep it up for long. We soon learned that he’d canceled a longer statement that hailed McCain as a hero, and the flag at the White House was raised to full staff, only to be lowered again after that sparked outrage.
Now it seems White House advisers have partially given up on trying to avoid further McCain-related controversy. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Trump aides briefly considered whether they should stop hosting events during the four days of McCain memorial events, which start Thursday, but they decided they can’t bring the White House to a standstill. That means a Trump rally in Indiana will go on as scheduled on Thursday night, even as McCain’s body is being transported to Washington. It raises the possibility of a very unfortunate split-screen on cable news, but according to the Times, aides have decided they can handle more indignation:
Several aides, battle-hardened by constant outside controversies, concluded that they could weather the criticism directed at them over the White House response to Mr. McCain, according to two people familiar with the planning who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Of course, they’d prefer to avoid such headaches if possible. Trump is expected to head to Camp David over the weekend, so at least he won’t be in the White House as everyone else in D.C. attends McCain’s memorial service on Saturday at the National Cathedral. Aides are said to be hoping that Trump will “contain his anger at the attention being lavished” on McCain, but weathering snubs with quiet dignity isn’t really his thing.