Leonard Pitts: Donald Trump, your funeral is coming

A former serviceman salutes near the casket during a memorial service for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. at the Arizona Capitol on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, Pool)

Dear Donald Trump:

Do you ever think about your own funeral?

The question is not meant to be morbid or to wish ill upon you. But given how churlishly you have behaved after the death of Sen. John McCain — was it really that hard for you to issue a laudatory statement and lower the flag in his honor? — it feels appropriate. Besides, it's only human to wonder how you'll be remembered once you exhale for the final time.

Indeed, Martin Luther King famously mused about his funeral just two months before he was killed. "Every now and then," he told his congregation, "I ask myself what is it that I would want said?"

The band Crash Test Dummies pondered the question in a ballad called "At My Funeral." ''When my coffin is sealed and I'm safely six feet under," the singer intoned, "perhaps my friends will see fit then to judge me."

The things that are being said of McCain are mostly the kinds of things one would want said, the judgments of his friends mostly flattering. We are hearing tales of duty, honor and puckish humor. His lapses in judgment? His mistakes and unworthy moments? Only journalists are rude enough to recall those, and even we won’t make too much of it — not now, at least. In death, after all, one is forgiven.


The qualifier is necessary because, as you have been a breaker of norms in so many other ways, you will likely be one in death. Royalty from the worlds of politics, sports and entertainment are gathering to honor McCain. Will a similar panoply of greatness follow you to your final rest? It's doubtful.

Two ex-presidents agreed to eulogize McCain, a man with whom neither was personally very close, but whom both regarded with respect. It's hard to imagine any ex-presidents giving your eulogy. So, who do you think they'll get?

Kid Rock? Vladimir Putin?

And what will they say?

When President Gerald Ford died, President Jimmy Carter thanked him "for all he did to heal our land." No one can say that of you.

When President Ronald Reagan died, President George W. Bush noted that he “carried himself, even in the most powerful office, with a decency and attention to small kindnesses ...” Something else no one can say about you.

With so many of your friends lining up to testify against you, who will even be left to mourn, outside of your kids and whomever you happen to be married to at the time? Will Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort be out on parole by then? Will Don Jr.?

Maybe Stormy Daniels will be there, signing autographs and taking selfies with her fans. Maybe David Duke will show up and burn a cross in your honor. Maybe Sean Spicer will stand out front and announce that, "This will be the largest audience to witness a funeral, period, both in person and around the world." Point being, there will be little mourning of the kind we're seeing for John McCain.

You see, the thing is, we write our own eulogies. Someone else delivers it, yes, but each of us authors his own in the life he lives and the memories he leaves. But despite having 72 years to work on it, the eulogy you've written thus far is meager and pathetic, your rise to the presidency and alleged billions in net worth notwithstanding.

Your inability to muster even a simulacrum of basic decency at the passing of an authentic American hero diminishes your eulogy even more. There's cautionary wisdom here, if only you had the wit to understand it.

As is true of us all, Donald Trump, your funeral is coming. You've probably never thought about that.

This would be a good time to start.

Leonard Pitts Jr.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald. lpitts@miamiherald.com