The White House is under fire for its response to derisive comments made by Kelly Sandler, special assistant to Donald Trump, about Senator John McCain, who is fighting an aggressive form of brain cancer. In spite of calls for an apology from the White House and Sandler to be fired, the White House has not apologized and Sandler remains at the White House.
During the Friday press briefing Sarah Huckabee Sanders, President Trump’s Press Secretary, called the comment unacceptable but refused to acknowledge the controversy, calling it a “staff matter” and saying, “I’m not going to validate a leak, one way or another, out of an internal staff meeting”, The Hill reports.
Sandler, in a closed door White House meeting on Thursday morning, offered her opinion about Senator McCain’s statement on Gina Haspel’s nomination for CIA Director. Haspel has been criticized for her role in the use of interrogation techniques as an agent. Her comments during the confirmation process have prompted McCain, who spent 5 years being tortured as a prisoner of war and has been a long time critic of torture as an interrogation technique, to state that he opposes Haspel’s nomination.
Sources from the meeting say that Sandler said, regarding McCain’s opposition, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.” Reportedly, the comment prompted discomfort for those hearing it but was assumed to be a joke, albeit one in poor taste. One source called the comment “jaw dropping”.
Although Kelly Sandler called the Senator’s daughter, Megan, to apologize after her comment was made public, the White House refuses to acknowledge that the comment was made or apologize for it.
The luke-warm response from the White House comes after the Times reported McCain does not want Donald Trump to attend his funeral and will have former Presidents Bush and Obama give the eulogy.
Trump notably made a comment about McCain’s war hero status during the Presidential campaign that he “likes people who weren’t captured”.
Why It Matters
When political party that supposedly values the service of veterans and venerates war heroes is more concerned about the leak of reprehensible comments of this nature than the comments themselves that is an indication that the party has lost its way entirely. But, in truth, the GOP was lost the day it did not reject Donald Trump for saying he likes people who weren’t captured. That comment, made in front of a conservative audience, should have been the end of Trump’s candidacy. It wasn’t.
Now his White House refuses to acknowledge, apologize, or punish the person who made a truly reprehensible comment about a dying war hero. Even when Senator Ted Kennedy was dying of brain cancer, a man who was decidedly not a war hero and whose actions left a woman dead in 1969, Republicans put aside their earthly grievances, knowing God would be his judge. And if they had nothing nice to say, they shut their mouths and said nothing as he was sent to his eternal rest.
Republicans eat their own in a feeding frenzy that will leave them empty and ashamed when the sun sets on this sad chapter. In today’s hyper-partisan political atmosphere, people on the right have lost their filters and their humanity in the name of Making America Great Again. It shouldn’t need to be said, but mocking war heroes does not make America great. It never has and it never will.
Men who are a prisoner of war for five years and refuse to go home before other prisoners and who live the rest of their lives unable to lift their hands above their heads because of the torture they endured and go on to become a U.S. Senator… THAT is what makes America great.