Back in July 2015, presidential candidate Donald Trump questioned the war-hero status (“I like people who weren’t captured”) of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), which has led to over two years of feuding between the two men. Fast forward to this week, and President Trump met with some different war heroes — two Navajo Code Talkers who helped save lives during World War II — and he couldn’t resist cracking a racially charged joke by referring to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as “Pocahontas.” Warren called the remark “deeply unfortunate” although she wasn’t surprised, but McCain was utterly disgusted.
Although McCain didn’t immediately react (at least, not publicly), and he never mentioned Trump’s name, there was no mistaking his condemnation of the president’s disrespect at an event to honor the Native American men. “Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Navajo Code Talkers, whose bravery, skill & tenacity helped secure our decisive victory over tyranny & oppression during WWII,” the senator tweeted. “Politicizing these genuine American heroes is an insult to their sacrifice.”
McCain clearly understands the gravity of the situation, but is he overestimating whether Trump meant to “politicize” anything at all? Some rumblings on Twitter suggested that the president harbored a brilliant plan of distracting Warren from discussing the GOP tax bill during her prescheduled MSNBC appearance, but does Trump really think that far ahead while making public comments? Maybe he simply blurted out an old, tired, and insensitive joke because, well, that’s kinda his thing. It happens!