We should all be used to this by now.
Senator John McCain, that “maverick” Republican in the U.S. Senate who consistently infuriates the rank and file of his own party while delighting the media, felt compelled to use the national stage to criticize a fellow Republican. Again. This time, it was President Trump and his immigration order.
“It’s been a very confusing process,” McCain, a Republican and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CBS’ ‘Face the Nation.’ McCain said the effect of Trump’s immigration order “will probably, in some areas, give ISIS (Islamic State) some more propaganda…”
Well. Thank goodness he said that. Someone had to speak the truth, since there’s been such a palpable shortage of Democrats and members of the establishment media willing to attack the president for his executive order on immigration.
But it’s the second part of that statement, about ISIS propaganda, which is most revealing. McCain absolutely parroted the Democrats’ familiar talking point: if you even dare to identify, not to mention address, the inconvenient fact that the overwhelming majority of terrorists threatening America are Muslim, you will just be playing right into the hands of ISIS by adding another talking point in their recruitment of up and coming jihadists.
Sure. ISIS has obviously had a tough time recruiting people willing to commit barbaric acts in the name of their murderous ideology. But now…now that the president has actually specifically identified the evil of Islamofascism and taken steps to stop it, recruitment numbers are certain to swell.
Perhaps it was unwise to identify that our enemy in World War II was the Germans. Or the Russians in the Cold War. Or the British in the American Revolution, for that matter Just because all the Nazis trying to take over the world were German, and the Communists laying waste to civilization were Russians, it was just awful of us to condemn an entire country.
Dispensing with the sarcasm for a moment, how does John McCain – not to mention his soul mate Lindsey Graham (AKA Mr. 1%) – actually remain relevant in the national conversation?
You could argue that it’s because of his identity as a 1960’s-vintage naval aviator turned POW, and thus a hero in the eyes of many (apparently, not including Donald Trump). But if that were true, then we should similarly ignore the record and statements of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who said Trump is an illegitimate president, because Lewis was courageous in the face of racist violence over 50 years ago.
You might say it’s because McCain has simply been there so long – his seniority accumulated over 30 years in the upper chamber earned him the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
But time has proven you would be wrong.
The answer is that he makes himself relevant by feeding the media a steady stream of exactly what they desire: a Republican always ready, willing and able to drop the hammer on a fellow Republican (see George Will, Bill Kristol, Bret Stephens, Rich Lowry, Jonah Goldberg, Steve Schmidt et al. in Campaign 2016).
There are times when politicians are left with little choice than to run away from their own party. For example, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) must distance himself from the dominant progressive wing of his party to remain viable in bright red West Virginia. But that is out of political necessity. McCain’s attacks are gratuitous and entirely unnecessary since he has proven to be Arizona’s Senator for life.
Oh, and let us not forget the defining legislative achievement of his long career: the infamous McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, which abridged not only free speech, but the type of speech protected by the framers above all others — political speech. Despite being widely attacked, and challenged in the courts as unconstitutional by a group of plaintiffs led by – wait for it again – his fellow Republican Mitch McConnell, the Supreme Court somehow upheld most of the legislation Of course, the disastrous bill was co-sponsored by, who else, a liberal Democrat.
You see a pattern here?
Does McCain even realize that he is the textbook definition of “useful idiot” for the left? That every one of his many statements of defiance against his own party serve only as add-on talking points for the deconstructionists on the left who would throw him under the bus in a heartbeat?
Of course he does. It’s just that he doesn’t care because his continued relevance is predicated only on his willingness to serve as a prop for the establishment media.
There are too many examples to enumerate, but some betrayals stand out above the others. In 2008, McCain certainly satisfied the fourth estate as a presidential candidate by piling on an unpopular president – of his own party, of course:
McCain recited a laundry list of issues on which he thought Bush had failed: “Spending, the conduct of the war in Iraq for years, growth in the size of government – larger than any time since the Great Society.” He also included “laying a $10 trillion debt on future generations of America” and “owing $500 billion to China.”
Many in the GOP agreed with him about Bush to be sure, but it’s one thing to recognize the flaws in your own party; it is quite another to use them as talking points in your own campaign against the opposing party. As if the media and Democrats were neglecting to do so themselves.
Consider McCain’s cloying speech to his supporters the night of his resounding defeat to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. He suggested, and then repeated in subsequent media appearances, that Obama’s victory was essentially good for the country.
This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight…that (Obama) managed to (win) by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans, who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president, is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving…..Sen. Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country.
Many of us who did not support Obama in 2008 also felt pride in the fact of electing a black president, but it might have been nice to know McCain’s heart was actually in the fight…since so many of us worked on his behalf, held our noses and voted for him, confident that Obama would prove to be exactly what he turned out to be – the most progressive president in American history, whose years of fundamentally transforming America will take at least as many years to unwind.
McCain does vindictiveness well. And oh, did he ever exact his revenge against the man who vanquished him in the 2000 primary race, George W. Bush, denouncing his signature tax cut package:
“I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle-class Americans who most need tax relief.”
McCain was one of only two Republicans to vote against President Bush’s $1.35 trillion, 10-year tax cut. Two years later, in May 2003, McCain was just one of three Republicans to vote against additional Bush tax cuts
Naturally, McCain flip-flopped in 2006, supporting the tax cuts…as he prepared his presidential run in 2008.
Remember also in 2004 that McCain was being seriously considered as a running mate for…wait for it…John Kerry, the liberal Democrat and future Secretary of State who returned from service in Vietnam and publicly condemned his fellow soldiers as war criminals. If that was not a red flag to the right, it is hard to imagine what would be.
As with the tax cut issue, McCain did ultimately support Bush for reelection that year, but he had no other choice if he wanted to remain viable for what he really desired – the GOP presidential nomination four years later.
So, remind me again why the great state of Arizona persists in electing over and over a man who always campaigns as a rock-ribbed conservative, then always turns on his own party when he gets to Washington for a fresh six years?
This is a man who simply cannot be trusted. Ask almost anyone who has worked with him in Washington (I have asked several). To say he is not well-liked by his peers and regular Republicans would be polite. Perhaps the most personally telling sign of the general disdain for McCain came during the 2008 campaign, when I tweaked a number of my conservative friends by hinting that I might vote for Obama. When they were finished venting their outrage at the very thought of such a thing, I asked them a question: Do you really want John McCain to be the face of the Republican party for the next four or eight years?
The response was deafening silence.