The guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain in Japan...

The guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain in Japan on Nov. 27, 2018. Credit: AFP/Getty Images/Tyra Watson

This little dishonor is just part of the pattern.

Ten days before President Donald Trump arrived in Japan for an official visit, official directives were issued for helicopter and Navy-ship preparation. Among them: "USS John McCain needs to be out of sight."

So the McCain and its crew were excluded in what looks at first blush to be a posthumous insult to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who died last August.

That's from an email cited by The Wall Street Journal. For those inclined to believe their president, Trump said Thursday: "Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn't like him OK? And, they were well-meaning." 

Then he again attacked McCain, for whom the craft is named along with his father and grandfather, who were both Navy admirals. Trump's rationale this time was a McCain health care vote. But of course Trump, who avoided the Vietnam-era draft by citing bone spurs, escalated the feud before he was president by famously sneering that McCain was "not a war hero.

"He's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.” 

Trump's latest haunted-by-McCain episode belongs to these unhappy patterns of conduct:

Blaming subordinates: Trump just as firmly denied knowledge of his lawyer Michael Cohen paying off porn actress Stormy Daniels to cover up his fling with her. It turned out Trump wrote the checks.

The president also blamed his former White House counsel Don McGahn for telling the special Russia counsel Robert Mueller about Trump's efforts to fire him based on a fake conflict. But McGahn's sworn testimony was consistent with that of other staff.

Embarrassments abroad: As if to tell foreign leaders his priority is himself and not the United States, Trump in Japan attacked Democrat Joe Biden by amplifying rocket-wielding North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's "low IQ" slur against Biden. Trump also slapped down statements from his national security adviser John Bolton. Past public exchanges with Russian President Vladimir Putin also brought unease.

Fear and loathing of prominent Republicans: It was never just McCain. He's also had nasty clashes with Sen. Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate in 2012; former President George W. Bush; ex-FBI director James Comey; Mueller; former House Speaker Paul Ryan; and assorted dissidents and former rivals in a party he now dominates.

Pettiness: He shares peeves and thumbs his nose on Twitter and in rallies as no president has before. Alec Baldwin is a washed-up actor! Saturday Night Live is against me! Michael Bloomberg is "little!" Pete Buttigieg looks like Alfred E. Neuman! The International Association of Fire Fighters are a "dues-sucking union," and so forth.

No wonder subordinates see fit to shield their needy commander in chief from even having to see a name he doesn't like on a Navy vessel.

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