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Warning, McCain Sighted! A Trigger Warning For Snowflake Trump

That was a pretty stunning story about the White House asking some Navy officials to move the warship USS John McCain “out of sight” during President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Japan. The obvious fear was that sharing any stage with the war hero would unhinge the president. McCain died last August from brain cancer.

This is pretty wild stuff.

Higher-ups in the Navy reversed earlier efforts to cover the ship’s name with a tarp. Trump denies he knew about the request, as does acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

Believe them, or don’t. What cannot be denied is that someone in the White House sent email to the 7th Fleet urging that McCain’s name be kept out of Trump’s line of vision. Please confirm that the request “will be satisfied,” the White House Military official wrote in a follow-up message to the Navy.

Also, sailors wearing the USS John McCain’s insignia were not allowed to board the amphibious assault ship Wasp, where Trump was giving his Memorial Day address. Sailors from other ships were invited aboard.

What we have here is a trigger warning at the presidential level. A trigger warning cautions that a work to be presented contains writing, images and/or concepts that some people might find distressing. Popular on some college campuses, trigger warnings have been subject to much-deserved ridicule.

Recall the fuss made during the last presidential campaign over the appearance of the words “Trump 2016” chalked on steps at Emory University. Students demonstrated with at least one insisting that the scribbling made him fear for his life. Others regarded this display of sensitivity as ludicrous.

Students demanding trigger warnings are often called “snowflakes.” Snowflakes are people so easily offended they feel a need for “safe spaces” away from realities of a harsh world. Snowflakedom is a mark of immaturity.

“Basically, we now have a capital city that is trying to child-proof the presidency, right?” historian Jon Meacham said. “You want to take everything away, all the sharp objects.” Airbrush things out that might upset the “dear leader.”

So what about John McCain triggers Trump? Many have noted that the senator from Arizona is a true American hero who, having spent over five gruesome years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, sacrificed greatly for his county — and Trump is not.

After running out of student deferments, Trump evaded conscription by claiming incapacitation due to bone spurs on his foot. It turned out he probably didn’t even have bone spurs. (His doctor reportedly lied about them as a favor to Trump’s father.)

It must have been hard for a fragile personality like Trump to watch the national outpouring of grief for McCain, who also embodied what now looks like a golden age of nonpartisan patriotism. The similar tributes paid to the late George H.W. Bush no doubt added tinder to Trump’s pile of insecurities.

Trump has tried to cover his neurotic bashing of a deceased politician by insisting his true beef was tied to McCain’s vote that stopped the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Actually, Trump should have thanked McCain. His prospects for reelection would be far dimmer had millions of Trump voters started losing their health coverage.

What makes this incident different from campus trigger warnings is that after being advised of the “dangers,” students can still choose to receive the material. Trump’s guardians wouldn’t even take that chance and worked to keep the trigger hidden altogether. Unless, of course, they were doing it all at Trump’s behest. The presidency doesn’t get weirder than this, or so we hope.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at

IMAGE: The late Senator John McCain (R-AZ), speaking at a campaign event for Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham (not seen) in New York, July 20, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Pentagon Seething As White House Defends Attempt To Hide USS McCain

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on Sunday defended an effort by White House staff to ask the Navy to move the USS John S. McCain out of sight during President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Japan.

The move comes after chief of Navy information Rear Adm. Charlie Brown last week confirmed “a request was made to the U.S. Navy to minimize the visibility of USS John S. McCain.”

Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, Mulvaney argued it’s “not an unreasonable thing” to ask about hiding the ship given “the president’s feelings towards the former senator.”

“The fact some 23- or 24-year-old person went to that site and said, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s the John McCain, we all know how the president feels about the former senator, that’s not the best backdrop, can somebody look into moving it?’” Mulvaney told host Chuck Todd. “That’s not an unreasonable thing to ask.”

The White House official also said it would be “silly” for someone to lose their job over the incident.

Mulvaney’s attempt to downplay the controversy comes as the Pentagon told the White House to stop politicizing the military. As Time reports, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan asked his chief of staff to speak with the White House military office “and reaffirm his mandate that the department of defense will not be politicized,” spokesman Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino said.

The acting defense secretary said that his senior staff members were unaware of White House officials’ request to obscure McCain’s name during the president’s visit, but told reporters he does not plan on ordering a Pentagon inspector general’s investigation “because there was nothing carried out.”

For his part, Trump called the request “well meaning.”

IMAGE: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sunday, June 2, 2019 via screenshot.

Why Trump Can’t Stand Anything That Reminds Him Of John McCain

The guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain, “Big Bad John,” was christened in 1992 in honor of the U.S. Navy’s first father-son duo of four-star admirals, “Slew” and Jack. On July 12, 2018, their son and grandson respectively, retired Navy captain and U.S. Senator John S. McCain III was added to the official namesake of that Navy ship in a ceremony in Yokosuka, Japan. This American destroyer and its crew, as reported by The Wall Street Journal‘s Rebecca Ballhaus and Gordon Lubold, were told by Navy and Air Force brass — in response to a directive from the White House — that during President Donald Trump’s Memorial Day weekend visit to Japan, the USS John S. McCain needs to be kept “out of   sight.”
Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), West Point graduate, a major in the 82nd Airborne Division, and McCain’s erstwhile colleague on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the White House’s actions to avoid a presidential tantrum at the sight of the Navy destroyer honoring the American war hero and frequent Trump adversary “beyond petty” and “disgraceful.” Yielding to few in my admiration for senators McCain and Reed, I believe the actions of up-to-now anonymous White House staffers, feverishly working to avoid the wrath of their insecure boss, were entirely logical and even predictable.
Think about it: McCain’s biography is a public rebuke to all the values and the life of Donald J. Trump. In June of 1968, when Trump was graduating from the University of Pennsylvania — only to miraculously be found afflicted with bone spurs, which would prevent the athletic Trump from answering his country’s call to serve in the U.S. military — Navy pilot McCain, having sustained a broken leg, broken shoulders and cracked ribs at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors, was in solitary confinement being tortured in a Hanoi prison.

We would learn some 32 years later what McCain’s fellow prisoners during his 5 1/2 years in captivity thought of him. During the 2000 New Hampshire presidential primary, I got to meet McCain’s Hanoi cellmate, Medal of Honor recipient and Air Force pilot George “Bud” Day. He, along with Marine aviator Orson Swindle, held prisoner for six years, and Navy pilot Everett Alvarez, one of the longest-held prisoners of war in U.S. history, came to the Granite State to knock on doors and to testify to voters about McCain’s courage and character. Can we name a single friend of Trump’s with whom his relationship is not commercially transactional? I am unable.

It was not just what McCain did but what he stood for that continues to make Trump so uncomfortable, even in the presence of his memory. Consider this McCain reflection on the warrior’s life I heard him give: “Not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war. Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers most keenly. Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war.” Then he added: “Something better can endure, and endure until our last moment on earth. And that is the honor we earn and the love we give if at a moment in our lives we sacrifice for something greater than self-interest.”

These values and words are heresy to the New York real estate mogul. Forced to confront his own inadequacies and his own selfishness, Donald Trump cannot stand to have people compare him to John McCain, alive or dead.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

Emails Confirm Pentagon Effort To Keep USS John McCain ‘Out Of Sight’

Earlier this week, Republican activist Meghan McCain reacted angrily after learning about the Wall Street Journal’s report that some people in the White House wanted to keep the USS John McCain out of sight during President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan, where he met with Prime Minster Shinzo Abe. And CNBC’s Amanda Macias is reporting that two sources have confirmed that a government e-mail shows coordinated White House efforts to keep the warship out of view.

In the e-mail, posted by Macias on Twitter, one of the directives is that the “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight.”

There was considerable animosity between Trump and Sen. McCain, who was 81 when he died of brain cancer on August 25, 2018. Trump deeply resented the Vietnam veteran and former POW for helping to derail the GOP’s American Health Care Act, which would have repealed the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare — and he in turn lambasted Trump vehemently after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland in July 2018.


Journalists have been reporting that given Trump’s disdain for the late Arizona senator, White House staffers wanted to hide the USS John McCain in order to avoid offending the president. The Pentagon, however, has responded that Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan was unaware of any plans to hide the warship, and Trump has said that he never ordered anyone to move it — although he said that whoever might have done that was “well-meaning.”


Thursday on ABC’s “The View,” which she co-hosts, Meghan McCain expressed her anger over the debacle — asserting, “It’s impossible to go through the grief process when my father, who’s been dead ten months, is constantly in the news cycle because the president is so obsessed with the fact that he’s never going to be a great man like he was.”

His daughter went on to say, “The president’s actions have consequences. And when you repeatedly are attacking my father and war heroes, it creates a culture in the military where people are clearly fearful to show my father’s name in one way or another.”