President Donald Trump succumbed to immense public outrage on Monday and ordered United States flags at all government buildings and facilities lowered to half-staff to honor Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who passed away Saturday night.
The White House had lowered the flag on Sunday night before raising it again on Monday. The flag will now remain at half-staff until the day of McCain's interment—the customary procedure for those of McCain's stature. The White House released the proclamation this afternoon.
The president also released his first statement outside of a tweet addressing the character and service of John McCain, saying
Despite our differences in politics and policy, I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag at half-staff until the day of his interment.
The president's initial remarks were relayed via Twitter and addressed to McCain's family.
For many, however, the move of lowering the flag now is too little, too late.
The president's ire for John McCain has been longstanding, originally gaining infamy with comments from Trump that McCain, who spent nearly six years as a prisoner of war, was "not a war hero" because he was captured.
As recently as four days before the senator's death, the president, while speaking at a rally in West Virginia, appeared to imply that McCain was unreliable:
We've got really no majority. We have—if you really look at it, probably we could say 49-49, 51-49. We have some people that aren't able to vote. We have some people that are a little unreliable. They don't exactly like what I've done to their career. They don't love what I've done and that's okay. And I don't like what they've done either.
McCain famously shattered the president's hope of fulfilling a pillar of his 2016 campaign: the repeal of Obamacare. In a tie-breaking vote, McCain broke with many in his party to maintain Obamacare until an adequate replacement plan could be reached.
McCain, whom to many represented an era of decency in American politics widely feared to be waning, was never afraid to stand up to the president.
One of these instances was following Trump's disastrous press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
After Trump sided with Putin over his own intelligence agencies as to whether Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election, McCain accused the president of abasing himself "abjectly before a tyrant."
Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.
Even before Trump's election, McCain accused him of "firing up the crazies" with his belligerent stances on immigration.
If Twitter is any indication, it appears one of McCain's lasting legacies will be his moral superiority to the current president.
While McCain has left this earth, his spirit will be remembered warmly by many. However, with acts of pettiness like this, the same may not be said of Trump.