McCain vs. Trump: a tale of two Americans

McCain vs. Trump: a tale of two Americans
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Decent men and women across the country and around the world are spending this week paying tribute to one of the greatest Americans in a century: John McCain.

Our current American president, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' MORE, is not one of them, which is symptomatic of the malaise, outrage and betrayal that engulfs his presidency.


It would have been so easy, so decent and so grand for Trump to have reached out to McCain during his time of illness and crisis. Instead, Trump used the moment to insult even more one of the great heroes of American life and one of the great statesman of American politics.

Trump versus McCain is a tale of two men, a tale of two Americans, a tale of two radically and polar opposite visions and standards of American public life.

McCain embodies the highest qualities of American patriotism and American greatness. He served our country with valor, risking his life in combat, and when he was a prisoner of war being tortured in the "Hanoi Hilton," risking his life again by refusing early release when his torturing captors offered it.

John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMartha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Meghan McCain blasts NY Times: 'Everyone already knows how much you despise' conservative women GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials MORE would not betray or leave behind his brothers in uniform. Trump said McCain was not a hero. Even after McCain passed away,  Trump could not rise above his pettiness.

Trump, in one of the most crass and vile comments in American political history, said he preferred troops who were never captured over the POWs who endured torture, pain and risk of death in service to our country.

McCain embodied the highest ideals and greatest traditions in American public service. He viewed public service as a great opportunity to make life better for every American.

While McCain believed in duty, honor and country, Trump believes in looking out for No. 1. While McCain gave the nation so much, Trump seeks to take as much as he can for himself.

McCain was one of the great truth-tellers in the history of American politics. Whether he was right or wrong on issues, he always called them as he saw them, always spoke the truth as he believed it and always sought to lift the standard of public discourse in America. 

Trump will soon be found by the great free press of the nation, who he calls the "enemy of the people," as dictators often do, to have spoken more than 5,000 falsehoods, misstatements and lies since assuming the presidency.

McCain fought to free the nation from the dirty campaign money that corrupts our democracy. Trump offers massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations and tries to use that as leverage to raise the very kinds of money that McCain sought to prevent from buying legislation and influence.

McCain believed in a patriotic politics of civility, bipartisanship and national unity. He worked with leading conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, throughout his career.

Trump attacks, demonizes and defames a long and growing list of Americans who may be liberals or conservatives who he treats as political enemies. Trump’s enemies list is vast and perpetually growing. 

While Trump spent years questioning the birthplace of former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina National Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Climate 'religion' is fueling Australia's wildfires MORE, McCain, at the height of his ambition as Republican nominee for president, rose with indignation in defense of Obama's American citizenship.

While McCain worked with Democrats in search of agreements, Trump only scorns and insults Democratic leaders and at times has expressed his contempt for Republican leaders.

McCain was a devout believer in freedom and democracy. Trump has repeatedly praised dictators from around the world.

McCain believed in uniting our democratic allies in common cause for freedom. Trump insults democratic leaders as he praises foreign dictators, wages trade wars against democratic allies, undermines democratic security alliances and divides and threatens democratic economic alliances.

McCain was fiercely loyal to his friends and his values. Trump is loyal only to himself and his interests and is shocked that many of his closest allies cop plea deals with federal authorities and reach agreements to cooperate with prosecutors and testify truthfully against his wrongdoing.

In a recent column, I noted how McCain's favorite novel was, "For Whom the Bell Tolls," by Ernest Hemingway about the Spanish Republican battle against fascism in Europe in the 1930s.

Soon, the bell will toll for Donald Trump. In this tale of two Americans, I and countless others are proud to stand with John McCain.

I will leave it to Trump’s supporters, apologists and cronies to tell the world how proud they are to stand with him.

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.