New Mexico governor orders flags lowered in honor of McCain

Saul Bowman
August 31, 2018

Traditionally, when a prominent American dies, the flag is lowered until his or her internment.

McCain died on Saturday at 81 after a 13-month struggle with brain cancer.

For the second straight day, Trump remained silent Monday about McCain: In three separate appearances at the White House, the president ignored questions from reporters about the late senator and his legacy.

Following McCain's death, admirers have recalled with fondness his insistence on fair and civil discourse - in contrast with the frequent incivility of the USA president and his habit of coining unflattering descriptions of political foes.

At federal buildings around Washington, some flags continued to fly at half-staff while a growing number were raised as they day continued. But Monday morning the flag was flying at full mast once again.

Before Mr Trump's statement on Monday afternoon, his only commentary on Mr McCain's death had been a perfunctory tweet on Saturday. "And by lowering flags for not one second more than the bare minimum required by law, despite a long-standing tradition of lowering flags until the funeral, the White House is openly showcasing its blatant disrespect for Senator McCain's many decades of service and sacrifice to our country as well as the service of all his fellow veterans". He added that other administration officials would attend memorial services. The Washington Post reported that when White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and other officials initially prepared a statement in Trump's name praising McCain, the president rejected that plan, opting instead for his Saturday tweet.

He wrote he'd asked Vice President Mike Pence to deliver remarks at a ceremony celebrating McCain's life in the US Capitol on Friday.

Defense Secretary James Mattis saluted McCain as a figure who "always put service to the nation before self", and "represented what he believed, that 'a shared objective does not claim our identity - on the contrary - it enlarges your sense of self'".

Gov. Paul R. LePage has directed all United States flags and State of ME flags to be flown at half-staff immediately in memory of Arizona Senator John McCain.

Later, at an evening dinner honouring evangelical leaders, the president said "our hearts and prayers" are going to the family "and we very much appreciate everything that senator McCain has done for our country".

Trump's proclamation came just hours after the White House flag had been returned to full-staff, drawing complaints from right and left.

Trump's silence reflected the bitter yearslong battle between the two men. But presidents have the power to issue proclamations extending that period, and have done so routinely. "Flattery secures his friendship, criticism his enmity", McCain said of Trump in his memoir, "The Restless Wave", which was released in May.

Against that backdrop, the flag above the White House spoke volumes. Criticism was not far behind. "Senator John McCain was an American hero and cherished member of The American Legion".

"There really is no room in the McCain family to focus on anything but him", Davis said. Trump also suggested to advisers that many of those speaking out on television were merely looking for reasons to attack him and that some of the same people now praising McCain previously did not like the senator.

"The nation is united in its grief and the world mourns the loss of a true hero and a great statesman", the first daughter said at a meeting of the Organization of American States in D.C.

On Monday, Trump critics flagged the handling of McCain's passing as disrespectful. "McCain's service to our country".

It was no secret that the president and McCain frequently clashed.

In a final letter released on Monday, McCain appeared to repudiate Trump's politics one last time, saying: "We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe".

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