In his column in Tuesday's Quad-City Times, Editorial Page Editor Jon Alexander seriously missed the point. While he minimized and justified White House aide Kelly Sadler's remark about John McCain — "he's dying anyway" — under the guise of the importance of considering the political implications of death, he seriously disregards the cold-hearted and mean spirited nuances of the statement. This wasn't just some political calculation concerning the future. It was a downright nasty comment, demeaning and trivializing a highly respected national leader, celebrating the fact that his moral opposition to the White House will soon disappear with his passing from life.
When will politicians and staff learn that for them, there is no such thing as a "private" conversation? Everything they say, publicly and privately, is open to public scrutiny. Remember President Obama's negative remarks about Netanyahu, when he thought his microphone was off? The price of being a public figure is that nothing is "private."
Alexander further justified Sadler's behavior by claiming that people whose careers require them to be in the constant company of death — such as doctors and funeral directors — relieve their stress by speaking crassly of the dead. Whether or not that is true, you can bet your bottom dollar that should such remarks come to the attention of the survivors of those deceased, there would be severe consequences for them. And even so, a White House communications aide is not a career choice which can be equated to a doctor or a mortician when it comes to constant exposure to death.
Shame on Kelly Sadler for what she said and how she said it, and shame on Jon Alexander for defending her.
Rabbi Henry Karp