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Jonathan Bernstein

Trump’s Snub of McCain Isn’t Just Indecent

The president is failing at central requirements of his job.

Mourning in the Senate.

Mourning in the Senate.

Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Updated on

Donald Trump’s petulant reaction to the death of John McCain could be analyzed only in terms of what it tells us about the president as a person. But the incident also reinforces some of the central themes of his presidency.

Trump continues to abdicate the role of head of state. He rejected a statement drafted by his staff honoring the Arizona senator, and then had White House flags returned to full staff on Monday, instead of leaving them at half-staff as is the normal practice. Late Monday afternoon, the White House reversed course and issued a proclamation ordering government buildings and facilities to fly the flag at half-mast.