The McCain funeral – a failed brand re-launch

When Caesar died, at least according to Shakespeare, the funeral oration by Mark Antony was about 40 minutes.  And Caesar had changed much of the world of his time.

The single defining moment for many in the 1960’s generation was the assassination of John Kennedy.  His funeral was two full days, every moment both memorable and historic.  It was an event that helped an entire nation properly grieve.

So when a senator dies, surrounded by his loving family, from a terrible illness, and he receives two, maybe three funerals, lasting most of a week, that is pretty much over the top.  And this one was just way over the top.

Photo credit: US Deaprtment of Defense

One wonders if it was meant to be more – perhaps a brand re-launch.

As a brand re-launch, those around McCain seem to want to first settle scores with those not in attendance likely followed by the eternal appeal of “…what would John McCain do?”  Every time there is a needed commentator for some anti-Trump or anti-conservative issue, in comes the McCain brand spokesperson with the refrain the press most craves.

For the brand, there is life after death.

In life McCain was a war hero because he was captured and tortured.  Nobody questions such courage.  He could have come home early, we are told, but did not because he did not want special treatment.  That is heroism.

Then there is the senator.  Like many politicians, he did not miss the darker side as his Keating 5 scandal well recalls.

McCain will always be known, by friends and enemies, as the only Republican in a political generation loved by the press.  Press love comes pretty cheaply.  Bash Republicans, talk up amnesty, appear ready to cut a deal with any Democrat who wants to deliver a body blow to the conservative middle of America, and you are there.

McCain’s major achievements were a campaign finance bill which was overturned and support for Middle East wars that have proven to be disasters.  Many military families had short, one-hour funerals for their dead heroes who came back from these terrible mistakes.

It would appear those around McCain, some family and others who are the typical hangers-on are trying to do more of a brand launch than perform the last rites of a funeral event.  The Ted Kennedy maxim at his brother Robert’s funeral may be applicable here:  “let us not make more of him in death than he was in life.”

John McCain was certainly a brand.  His brand was “maverick.”  He will be remembered by that word from this generation.

But a brand, by definition is an unchanging thing.  Ivory soap is always Ivory soap.  Kleenex is, well, you know what it is because it is a brand – the same brand for the last 40 years.

The tragedy of John McCain is that in his political life, he was always one step behind where the country was.  Had he been the presidential candidate in 2000, rather than Bush, he likely may have won.  But he wasn’t.

When he became the candidate, he was running against someone who was an historic candidate.  The outcome was unfortunate but hardly McCain’s fault.

He listened to the press and seemed to believe, that like in the 1960s, the press foretold where the country was going.  But he was wrong. The press had become part of what went before, not what was on its way.

McCain led the Gang of Whatever toward amnesty at a time it appeared that was going to be the next big thing.

A politician, if he is to be remembered beyond one short political generation, is one who captures the spirit of his age.  And McCain never could do that because he had a tin ear when it came to the people but was all ears when it came to the popular press.  And the press could not see it.

McCain missed one of the great sea changes in American history.  Donald Trump did not.

This funeral, actually a brand launch for those who will claim it, with fawning press, veiled attacks on Trump failed to launch the brand.  Many speakers did not appear to focus on the man, they appeared to get some petty revenge on his opponents.

It failed because this brand is fleeting.  It will not last more than months.  The press who extoll John McCain will move on to the next Republican to oppose Trump.  Those who loathed McCain will forget their feelings and history will gently erase most edges in everyone’s memory.

Once, when we had some 30-somethings at our house, we noticed a Bob Hope movie was on the television in the other room.  We commented on it and were shocked when both of the 30-somethings said “…who’s Bob Hope?"

30 years from now, there will be 30-somethings who will say “…who’s John McCain?”

They will, however, know just who Donald Trump was.

Because Donald Trump, unlike John McCain, grasped the spirit of his age.

When Caesar died, at least according to Shakespeare, the funeral oration by Mark Antony was about 40 minutes.  And Caesar had changed much of the world of his time.

The single defining moment for many in the 1960’s generation was the assassination of John Kennedy.  His funeral was two full days, every moment both memorable and historic.  It was an event that helped an entire nation properly grieve.

So when a senator dies, surrounded by his loving family, from a terrible illness, and he receives two, maybe three funerals, lasting most of a week, that is pretty much over the top.  And this one was just way over the top.

Photo credit: US Deaprtment of Defense

One wonders if it was meant to be more – perhaps a brand re-launch.

As a brand re-launch, those around McCain seem to want to first settle scores with those not in attendance likely followed by the eternal appeal of “…what would John McCain do?”  Every time there is a needed commentator for some anti-Trump or anti-conservative issue, in comes the McCain brand spokesperson with the refrain the press most craves.

For the brand, there is life after death.

In life McCain was a war hero because he was captured and tortured.  Nobody questions such courage.  He could have come home early, we are told, but did not because he did not want special treatment.  That is heroism.

Then there is the senator.  Like many politicians, he did not miss the darker side as his Keating 5 scandal well recalls.

McCain will always be known, by friends and enemies, as the only Republican in a political generation loved by the press.  Press love comes pretty cheaply.  Bash Republicans, talk up amnesty, appear ready to cut a deal with any Democrat who wants to deliver a body blow to the conservative middle of America, and you are there.

McCain’s major achievements were a campaign finance bill which was overturned and support for Middle East wars that have proven to be disasters.  Many military families had short, one-hour funerals for their dead heroes who came back from these terrible mistakes.

It would appear those around McCain, some family and others who are the typical hangers-on are trying to do more of a brand launch than perform the last rites of a funeral event.  The Ted Kennedy maxim at his brother Robert’s funeral may be applicable here:  “let us not make more of him in death than he was in life.”

John McCain was certainly a brand.  His brand was “maverick.”  He will be remembered by that word from this generation.

But a brand, by definition is an unchanging thing.  Ivory soap is always Ivory soap.  Kleenex is, well, you know what it is because it is a brand – the same brand for the last 40 years.

The tragedy of John McCain is that in his political life, he was always one step behind where the country was.  Had he been the presidential candidate in 2000, rather than Bush, he likely may have won.  But he wasn’t.

When he became the candidate, he was running against someone who was an historic candidate.  The outcome was unfortunate but hardly McCain’s fault.

He listened to the press and seemed to believe, that like in the 1960s, the press foretold where the country was going.  But he was wrong. The press had become part of what went before, not what was on its way.

McCain led the Gang of Whatever toward amnesty at a time it appeared that was going to be the next big thing.

A politician, if he is to be remembered beyond one short political generation, is one who captures the spirit of his age.  And McCain never could do that because he had a tin ear when it came to the people but was all ears when it came to the popular press.  And the press could not see it.

McCain missed one of the great sea changes in American history.  Donald Trump did not.

This funeral, actually a brand launch for those who will claim it, with fawning press, veiled attacks on Trump failed to launch the brand.  Many speakers did not appear to focus on the man, they appeared to get some petty revenge on his opponents.

It failed because this brand is fleeting.  It will not last more than months.  The press who extoll John McCain will move on to the next Republican to oppose Trump.  Those who loathed McCain will forget their feelings and history will gently erase most edges in everyone’s memory.

Once, when we had some 30-somethings at our house, we noticed a Bob Hope movie was on the television in the other room.  We commented on it and were shocked when both of the 30-somethings said “…who’s Bob Hope?"

30 years from now, there will be 30-somethings who will say “…who’s John McCain?”

They will, however, know just who Donald Trump was.

Because Donald Trump, unlike John McCain, grasped the spirit of his age.