Wanna hear a joke about an American hero dying of brain cancer?
I didn’t think so. No decent person would. And it would take an even bigger creep to tell a joke like that and, once confronted by the dying man’s distraught family, to refuse to utter a public apology.
Welcome to Washington, circa 2018.
Just as first lady Melania Trump is urging the nation’s children to “choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion,” this is the example being set down the hall by a government-funded adult?
I’m not someone who’s easily offended by questionable taste in humor. Who is anymore? To me, most sacred cows are begging for an express ride to the butcher shop. But even the thickest-skinned among us have some lines we will not cross, such as ridiculing those who are on their deathbeds.
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And then there is White House communications aide Kelly Sadler. For her, no such line exists, not if it involves someone who can be construed as any kind of opponent. Compared to Kelly, that bare-knuckles comedian from the White House Correspondents Dinner was passing out Mother’s Day bouquets.
In a meeting last week, White House staffers were complaining about John McCain, who’d vowed to vote against Gina Haspel as director of the CIA, concluding that “her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.” The Arizona senator, of course, was tortured as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.
To which Sadler reportedly cracked: “It doesn’t matter. He’s dying anyway.”
The quote leaked out almost immediately, as everything does these days. And from that moment forward, all of Washington and much of America has been waiting for Sadler or someone else in the White House to stand up and apologize. Instead, Sadler’s been publicly silent. She may have made a phone call to daughter Meghan McCain but won’t confirm that one way or the other. And White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has taken a stand of her own — not against cruel, heartless insults but against those who blow the whistle on them.
Quick show of hands: Who believes this won’t happen again?
Metro columnist Ellis Henican is the best-selling author of a dozen books. Join Ellis on Twitter @henican.