Yes, this gets old.
Exposing the blatant hypocrisy of how differently the media handled similar situations when it was President Obama instead of President Trump is a task that often seems futile and repetitive. Fortunately, it is also very easy thanks to the magic of Internet search engines that perhaps most reporters don’t know how to use.
In 2016, two national icons died: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former First Lady Nancy Reagan. Scalia arguably is as consequential a public figure as Sen. John McCain, who passed away over the weekend. But President Barack Obama did not attend either funeral. (Trump will not attend McCain’s funeral this week per the former senator’s request.) Obama sent Vice President Joe Biden to Scalia’s funeral, and dispatched his wife to attend Reagan’s funeral so he could speak at a festival in Texas.
Granted, Obama did offer Scalia a respectful tribute (a move that Trump unwisely did not emulate) but it had an ulterior political motive: “I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time,” Obama said on the same day Scalia died. “There will be plenty of time for me to do so, and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote. These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They’re bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy.”
This may come as a shock, but there was little outcry about Obama using that moment to politicize Scalia’s death.
Obama also ordered flags flown at half-staff for Scalia through the day of his internment, a rule strictly defined in the U.S. Code pertaining to the flag’s handling. (Obama did the same for Reagan.)The law articulates how long a flag can be lowered in honor of public officials: “The flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government in the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia on the day of death and on the following day upon the death of a United States Senator [or] Representative.”
Trump has been under fire all day for following that rule. Caving to pressure, Trump again lowered the flags at the White House this afternoon.
In McCain’s case, Trump followed the law and political precedent, conduct that was A-OK between 2009 and 2017, but now is blasphemous.