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John McCain Farewell to Be Led by Two Presidents — but Not That One

Category: Political News,Politics

Mr. McCain came to respect both Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama, and vice versa, despite their disputes over major issues — unlike the senator’s feelings about the current president, Donald J. Trump, who was pointedly not invited. Many in the cathedral and beyond will watch how Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama use the moment not just to pay tribute to their mutual vanquished opponent but to send a message of their own to the man who now occupies the white building on Pennsylvania Avenue where they once lived.

Will there be counter-programming?

Mr. Trump has made perfectly plain his disdain for Mr. McCain even in the week since his death, but many eyes will scan the president’s Twitter feed on Saturday to see if he indulges the impulse to offer his own thoughts on the day of the senator’s memorial service or otherwise creates news to distract from the event.

Mr. Trump had to be cajoled by his staff for two days simply to issue a pro forma statement expressing respect for Mr. McCain’s service and ordering flags to fly at half-staff until sunset on Sunday, the day the senator is to be buried at the United States Naval Academy. He refused to cancel a campaign-style rally in Indiana set for the same day as a service for Mr. McCain in Arizona on Thursday. He was initially planning to spend the weekend sheltered away at Camp David but opted instead to remain at the White House.

Taking attendance in the cathedral.

Much attention will focus on who was invited and who was not. Among those reported not to be on the list is Sarah Palin, his running mate in 2008. In a documentary and a new book earlier this year, Mr. McCain said it was a mistake not to pick Mr. Lieberman as his candidate for vice president and, while he said he did not fault Ms. Palin, she took the comment as “a gut punch.”

Politico reported that three former campaign aides to Mr. McCain also did not make the cut — Steve Schmidt, Nicolle Wallace and John Weaver. Mr. McCain and Mr. Weaver had a sometimes turbulent relationship, and Mr. Schmidt and Ms. Wallace later became public critics of Ms. Palin and her selection, although all three remained admirers of the senator.

A final bipartisan ‘codel.’

Mr. McCain loved traveling the world to meet with everyone from foreign leaders to rebel commanders, and he made a point of traveling with members of both parties. His list of pallbearers in some ways resembles one of these congressional delegations, called codels for short.

From the Democratic side of the aisle will be former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and former Senators Russ Feingold and Gary Hart, all of whom Mr. McCain served with. From the Republican side will be former Senator Phil Gramm and former Gov. Tom Ridge, as well as William Cohen, who served as a Republican senator before joining President Bill Clinton’s cabinet as defense secretary. Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who has been a Republican, Democrat and independent, will also participate.

Among the other pallbearers will be Warren Beatty, who never served as a senator but played one on the big screen in “Bullworth,” the story of a politician who finally breaks the shackles of the trade to tell it like it is — something Mr. McCain prided himself for doing.


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