I was in D.C. over the weekend, visiting family, when word spread that Senator John McCain died. Sunday morning, my son took me to the U.S. Capitol to pay my respects.
I had over 100 Facebook reactions to the picture taken of me with the flag at half-staff in front of the iconic building. With a few exceptions, the vast majority of the “likes, loves, and tears” came from Democrats.
The Washington Post reported in June 2018 that McCain was favored by 62% of Democrats and only 20% of Republicans in Arizona, according to a CBS News Battleground Tracker poll.
Although at times I had disagreed with some of Senator McCain’s policies, he always exemplified the great American statesman. I attributed his gentlemanly ways to spending the summers of his youth on the family farm in Carroll County, Mississippi.
But then, I’m a Mississippi native.
I often look to Governor Phil Bryant’s posts on his Facebook account in order to check my state’s political temperature.
Bryant expressed his condolences.
In response, one comment was, “The same McCain who voted no to repeal Obamacare and we’re supposed to feel bad?” Another stated that he felt no remorse for the death of a person who “opposes My President.”
I had also asked my son to drive me to the White House so I could take a picture of the flag at half-staff there. He declined because we would have to park far away, and he worried about my limited mobility.
Now, I wish I had persisted.
Monday, the flag was hoisted at its normal position over the White House, a total break with precedent since President Eisenhower’s proclamation in 1954. The President acknowledged Senator McCain’s passing with a lukewarm Tweet.
The death of a famous statesman and the discrepancy in reactions once again underlined that we live in strange times, indeed. Dignity and decorum are all but gone from the Republican Party.
Senator John McCain had yet to be laid to rest but a picture of a half-staff flag over the White House could not be taken.
A national disgrace. Apparently, I was not alone in my disgust.
Late Monday, President Trump yielded to pressure from notable members of both parties and multiple veterans’ groups, including the American Legion.
He flip-flopped and allowed the flag to be flown over OUR White House at half-staff until the day of Senator McCain’s interment. Many, including Dan Rather, believe it is too little too late.
Katherine Dupont Phillips is a native Mississippian who taught in high schools and community colleges in the Jackson MS area for over thirty years. Married to an Englishman, she lived in England for two years and enjoyed teaching there, as well.
Newly retired, she spends her time reading, writing, and traveling, especially to Austin TX and Alexandria VA where her grandchildren live.