John McCain’s Funeral Was, Among Other Things, The Ultimate Revenge on Donald Trump


One of the greatest breaks a man can get in life is to know, at an advanced age, exactly when he is going to die and to be given enough time to be properly prepared for his end. Based on today’s memorial service in his honor, John McCain took full advantage of this last gift.

The moving event was clearly and carefully planned to achieve several objectives, all of which it did. It provided a fitting goodbye to an American hero, solidified his legacy in our national history, and allowed those who so dearly loved him a proper opportunity to grieve their loss.

But make no mistake, it also enabled McCain to leave us with a subtle but unmistakable and powerful denunciation of our current President Donald Trump. Nearly every element of how this goodbye was scripted sent a strong message, either directly or indirectly, and one that cast Trump in a negative light.

The setting was the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., just miles from the White House. Trump was not invited to attend, while the two previous presidents, both of whom had defeated McCain in presidential battles, were given the most prominent speaking slots. The woman Trump defeated to win the presidency was there in the front row, while Trump was no doubt blowing off steam at his golf course not far away.

The visceral impact of a current president of the political party of the deceased not being asked to speak, or even attend, while the two previous presidents were, was not even lost on my six-year-old daughter. When she asked me why we were watching a funeral on a Saturday morning I told her it was because McCain was a hero and because the presidents were going to speak. She asked me if that meant Trump (she knows I don’t like Trump, but I rarely talk about him to her) was going to talk. I simply said, “No.”

She immediately rejoiced, “Oh, thank ALL the Gods!”

Quite literally, the distinguished guest list, befitting of a man who had actually been president, would not have been any different if McCain had died in 2015. In the world McCain was honoring with his funeral arrangements, it was as if time had literally stopped before Trump was elected. In a very real sense, it felt like Trump didn’t even exist. This wasn’t John McCain in denial about reality, it was him trying to tell us that things do not need to be, nor should they be, the way that they currently are.

Any ambiguity about the true intentions of this symbolism was profoundly ended when McCain’s daughter Meghan spoke so eloquently about what her father meant to her and the nation. During two particularly stirring passages she struck out at Trump as directly as was possible without actually uttering his name, with one salvo even provoking — shockingly — much of the audience in the church to politely applaud, causing “MAGA Nation” to recoil in horror.

The overriding message of the entire service was that we as a country are better than what we currently are and that we can return to what we once were. That it is possible for us to skip over the Trump era as a blip in our history and recover to the nation McCain so loved, at least once this political cancer has been removed, or somehow endured.

As a pessimist, I wish I shared such an optimistic, and perhaps naïve, view of our future. However, no one should deny a man like McCain his right to think so highly of the fortitude and greatness of the country to which he gave so much.

My fervent wish on this memorable day is that, when the sun sets, it is not the last time that my fellow conservatives will publicly speak glowingly of John McCain and what he really meant to us all. My rational fear is that it indeed will be, and that McCain himself knew that, thus the grandiose nature of his self-planned sendoff.

Farewell John McCain. You took a piece of us with you that we are likely never getting back. Some of us will never forget that.

John Ziegler hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud  or email him at

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

Filed Under: