Roger L. Simon

Signal-to-Noise: Trump Should Forget about McCain Already

Signal-to-Noise: Trump Should Forget about McCain Already
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Oct. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The headline screamed out at the top of Drudge this morning — TRUMP BATTLES GHOST OF MCCAIN — in all caps yet (at least it wasn’t in red with a siren).

Should anybody really care about this? Not really. John McCain, in case you haven’t noticed, is dead. Yet the president has resurrected him and won’t let this truly sleeping dog lie.

Yes, the Arizona senator most likely voted to preserve Obamacare out of personal hostility to Trump, but the president opened himself up to that with his ill-considered attack on McCain’s heroism, the very thing the senator held most dear. It was an insult that left many of us — even those, like me, who weren’t in any sense fans of McCain — scratching our heads.

Even more, McCain had a dicey role in the promulgation of the despicable Steele dossier for which history, one can safely predict, will not be kind to him. It’s not difficult to understand why Trump would be more than a little bit annoyed with him, ghost or not.

Nevertheless, our president — who generally makes excellent executive decisions — has, as I wrote some time ago, a signal-to-noise problem he has been unable or unwilling to lick. It is Trump’s most serious weakness. All things are equal in the land of Donald, whether it be ISIS or his enduring grudge against McCain. ISIS (and the like) is very much the signal. McCain (especially now) is definitely noise, very insubstantial noise.

This weakness has been all too easy for the media to exploit and gives them an opening. (Who needs that headline on Drudge, once an ally? Who needs Meghan McCain — a conservative — complaining about the mistreatment of her father every other day on “The View”?) Trump should have the discipline not to let that happen. It would make him more effective as a leader. There would be yet more winning and in the coming election less chance to be distracted or, worse, defeated.

Now grudges are normal for almost all humans, other than a few Zen masters. We all harbor them. They wake us up in the middle of the night when we suddenly remember that so-and-so screwed us last week or last year. Very often our grudges are indeed actually based on a real slight. BUT… the wise woman or man or LGBT whatever tries to keep cool, remember it’s three AM, stay away from Twitter, and try to get another hour or two of sleep. Living well, we have been taught, and accurately, is the best revenge.

For Trump, that means forgetting about McCain and being the best president possible. Every second spent dwelling on McCain is a second not spent doing something constructive. Right now the president would be well advised to direct his attention to something of maximum importance for 2020 — explaining to both our youth and minorities why capitalism is, for them, a vastly better system than socialism. That is the issue of our time. What John McCain said or did is not only irrelevant, at this point it’s hugely boring.

Roger L. Simon — co-founder and CEO emeritus of PJ Media — is a novelist and screenwriter.