February 5th, 2013

John McCain…

just bein’ John McCain.

Which is to say, a complete failure as a leader in the Senate, except to follow his own idiosyncratic idea of Senate collegiality, or some other outdated and chivalrous notion, or perhaps some sort of self-serving strategic move that I don’t understand but has become typical of his long and largely counter-productive Senate career:

Sen. John McCain appears to have cleared the way Monday for Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense.

The Arizona Republican, who has been a prominent voice in the debate over Hagel, said Monday he would oppose any attempt to filibuster the nomination, likely dooming any attempt by Senate conservatives to sustain a protracted procedural fight to delay Hagel’s confirmation.

Why? Well, it would be “inappropriate,” don’t you see? I not only don’t understand that, I don’t even think that’s McCain’s reason. Perhaps he sees a chance to influence Hagel if Hagel wins the nomination? If so, that’s a case of hubris, IMHO.

There are others who seem to be on McCain’s side:

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) has said he will oppose Hagel but doesn’t want to raise the ante. “I don’t want to filibuster. We don’t want to go that way,” he said. “It is a choice that could lead to a lot more problems.”

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) also expressed reservations about any filibuster but were not ready to commit to a cloture vote.

“In general I am very reluctant to filibuster Cabinet nominees,” Collins said. “It would be a high standard that would have to be met before I would think that a filibuster of a cabinet nominee were appropriate.”

We expect that from Collins of Maine, but the others? What problems could this lead to that the Republicans in the Senate don’t already have (I doubt they’re talking about problems for the nation)?

And does anyone think for a single moment that the Democrats, in a similar position, would consider that a “high standard…would have to be met before [they] would think that a filibuster of a cabinet nominee were appropriate?”

I’ve said from the start that Hagel would be nominated, so in a way it’s no surprise. But it’s still infuriating. I think one of the reasons people get so frustrated with Republicans in Congress, and particularly in the Senate, is that they seem to have no spine and commit a lot of unforced errors—for no obviously discernible reason. And this is what makes people suspect that they have no conservative principles (or even no principles) at all.

Even self-interest, the best bet, doesn’t quite explain it. It’s hard to figure out how they would benefit from this particular move, for example. Will they earn concessions from the Democratic colleagues? Money? Influence? I don’t think so. Perhaps those more creatively cynical than I could explain it.

[NOTE: For those who wonder how I square this sort of post with yesterday’s call for rapprochement—or at least an end to the acrimony of the hostilities—between the so-called “establishment Republicans” and the Tea Party regarding vetting candidates, I reiterate that I’m very frustrated with both sides of that equation, but I still don’t think a war will help the situation.]

20 Responses to “John McCain…”

  1. chuck Says:

    I think many Republicans at the upper levels see the Republican brand as a lost cause and are trying to get the best deal in surrender. But I don’t think that is what motivates McCain. He, I think, is just not that clever and hasn’t much to steer by other than his sense of himself as honorable.

  2. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    About the only think Chuck Hagel is qualified to run is an election campaign, or perhaps a senate office.

    He’s no were near ready to take on the DoD, with some 3.23 million employees, civilian and military, guard and reserves.

    Senator McCain, this guy isn’t qualified to run a squadron (which you did), but you think he’ll do OK as the top guy? then why not me? I could do just as poor a job as poor ol’ Chuck.

  3. Lizzy Says:

    As always, McCain’s top priority is John McCain. He thrives on the notion that he is the last/most reasonable Republican in Congress. He’s forever willing to undercut his side in order to form a “gang of N” compromise so that John McCain comes out looking like the hero. Democrats & the MSM use his hubris against him again and again. He’s an egomaniac and a fool.

  4. Don Carlos Says:

    Neo: With the comments by the Senate Establishment GOPers, you still wonder about the Tea Parties’ reluctance to make peace and make common cause with the GOPers?

    I appreciate your post about Horowtz, which relates precisely to the Stupid Party that refuses to get it.

    P.S. Early in his career (1987) McCain was a member of the “Keating Five” who improperly took ‘campaign’ money from a banker, Keating, whose bank failed in 1989 at a cost to the taxpayers of $3 Billion (unadjusted for inflation). McCain was excused by the Senate ethics committee for “improper judgement” which he has unfailingly continued to exercise since.

  5. Don Carlos Says:

    I refreshed my Keating memory on Wiki, which indicates McCain took more money than any of the other four Senators (who were all Dems), so he was even then reaching across the aisle, palm up:

    From Wiki: ” McCain and Keating had become personal friends following their initial contacts in 1981, and McCain was the only one of the five with close social and personal ties to Keating. Like (Sen.) DeConcini (D-AZ), McCain considered Keating a constituent as he lived in Arizona. Between 1982 and 1987, McCain had received $112,000 in political contributions from Keating and his associates. In addition, McCain’s wife Cindy McCain and her father Jim Hensley had invested $359,100 in the Fountain Square Project, a Keating shopping center, in April 1986, a year before McCain met with the regulators. McCain, his family, and their baby-sitter had made nine trips at Keating’s expense, sometimes aboard Keating’s jet; three of the trips were made during vacations to Keating’s opulent Bahamas retreat at Cat Cay. McCain did not pay Keating (in the amount of $13,433) for some of the trips until years after they were taken, when he learned that Keating was in trouble over Lincoln. In 1989 Phoenix New Times writer Tom Fitzpatrick opined that McCain was the ‘most reprehensible’ of the five senators.”

    Good ol’ John. Another great Establishment GOPer.

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    Don Carlos: no, I don’t wonder about it. I understand the anger and frustration, as I’ve said many many times before, and I share it.

    I don’t wonder about it, but I condemn it, and I especially condemn their own refusal to look at their own flaws and errors, and to correct them, as well as the attitude of warfare. I will repeat once again what I wrote in this previous comment, in answer to the question “what’s the Tea Party to do?”:

    he Tea Party should stop sending me (and others) emails designed to make the recipient perceive Karl Rove as an evil fake Republican bent on destroying them. That would be a good start.

    Beyond that, I think the Tea Party is doing just fine. It should promote the candidates it thinks best. Primary those it wants to. And, as I’ve written before, try to vet and advise the candidates it does support in a helpful and constructive manner. Don’t throw its weight behind someone who is unable to articulate his/her own views properly, or whose views are bizarre (Akins comes to mind).

    The Tea Party should not regard the Republican “establishment” as its sworn enemies, but as other Republicans with a right to their positions, and a right to support the candidates they think best, just as the Tea Party has a right to do.

    And I’d love to see both sides in that vaunted word, a dialogue, to get to see what they both have in common rather than what tears them apart. I’d like to see them working together on the things they do agree on, because I think those things exist.

    The Tea Party has become more paranoid about other Republicans than about Democrats. That’s my beef. Recognize the true and most dangerous opposition, the left.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    Don Carlos: and as far as McCain goes, I don’t even see him as a typical “establishment GOPer.” He’s worse than that, actually. He goes his own way. He has made it his special mission to show how bipartisan he is, to the exclusion of conservative principles. That is his schtick, his claim to fame. Otherwise, he’s just a mediocre senator.

    His strength in earlier days was in the war on terror. That’s not so much in the forefront now. I wouldn’t be against him being primaried if he tries to run again. But it better be by somebody smart, who can actually win, or that’s useless, too.

  8. KLSmith Says:

    Neo: may I suggest having those TP groups remove you from their mailing lists.

  9. Don Carlos Says:

    McCain was just re-upped with a 60% victory, IIRC.

    There are a lot of people out there who are bitterly disillusioned about the GOP, and not without reason. It ain’t the Dems, who love the Stupid Party.

    If the establishment GOP would read the Horowitz link and understand it, along with maybe a dose of Alinsky, progress could be made. But they have not and will not, and dialogue with a TP won’t help them grow cojones. I have given up on candidates who get into the ring and refuse to fight just as dirty as their opponent, give as good as they get. RomneyRyan is a fine example of cowardice in the face of the enemy.

    They are wimps who want their jobs and my (our) money, and they are LOSERS, maybe not in their districts (see McCain victory above), but to the nation’s needs.

    My own congresscritter is one of these. It’s a career, not a responsibility.

  10. Sam L. Says:

    Yeah, vote for that messed-up Hagel. Waitaminit. DON’T vote for him.

  11. James Says:

    I have something to say to the Republicans in Congress, let’s see it’s here somewhere, very profound, nuanced, and on a very high intellectual plane. Yes, here it is: Put up a goddamn fight about something anything, at least prove you are a person containing a spine.

  12. NeoConScum Says:

    Dear John: Thank you for your long, Long, LONG AGO service to America. As a senator you’re nearly useless. A silly, whirling dervish—egomaniacal in the extreme. Temperamental to Republicans, tolerant of Democrats no matter how far left…And far, FAAARRRRRRR past any excuse to continue in that more and more embarrassing chamber. You should have retired 10-F’ing Years Ago, John Boy.

  13. southpaw Says:

    NeoconScum – amen to that. I might add a few years ago he should have taken advantage of his resemblance to the villain Skeletor in the He Man movie.
    Last week’s typical and familiar grandstanding in the Hagel hearings made me remember why I couldn’t bring myself to vote for him. Hagel is a dunce and unqualified to be sure, but this guy was (is?) his friend. Was it really necessary for McCain to publicly humiliate his friend, considering the respect he showed for Kerry and Clinton? He’s disloyal to his friends and companions and bends over backwards for the people who use him and undermine his party.
    Lizzy you said all this much better. He’s a weasel.

  14. vanderleun Says:

    Perhaps it is time for a Kickstater fund to let McCain retire to the Hanoi Hilton once again.

  15. KLSmith Says:

    vanderleun: dude? retirement in Arizona is good enough. bet he’ll be there til he’s a 100, though.

  16. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States and some Canadian provinces Says:

    }}} John McCain…
    }}} …just bein’ John McCain.

    … a consummate ASS?
    … a blatant RINO?
    … an unprincipled ephwit?
    … all the above?

  17. thomass Says:

    “Perhaps he sees a chance to influence Hagel if Hagel wins the nomination? If so, that’s a case of hubris, IMHO.”

    Heh; because that kind of thinking really paid off with the media and Latino voters last time he ran for president.

  18. holmes Says:

    There’s only so many times the R’s can play “obstructionist.” Yes, they’re stopping an incompetent boob, but I ask again, why bother if they’re not willing to leverage it for anything? If Hagel’s nomination meant a budget proposal, that would be one thing, but instead, it will just be defending the US and saving lives and no one is interested in that nonsense.

  19. Micha Elyi Says:

    If I were skeptical about human nature and ambition, I’d figure John McCain really, really wanted to make admiral like his dad (and granddad too, if I recall). But he couldn’t so he went into politics. Twice he ran for president; being C-in-C would put him higher up in stature than his dad. Maybe head of the Senate Armed Services committee would salve his ego too. Failing that, how about being kingmaker for a Sec Def?

    If I were skeptical, of course.

    I was hoping he would be defeated for re-election in a primary way back in 1998 (as he was seeking a third term in the Senate). He was bad news back then (as an earlier commenter mentioned, he had the Keating Five S&L fraud scandal taint – to mention just one example). Worse, he already had an advanced and severe case of I-Can-Be-President Disease (an occupational hazard of US Senators, many Representatives, and quite a few Governors).

    John McCain has got to go. Trouble is, he’s got beau coup name recognition and a history of productive pork delivery. Beating him will take a lot of money and a strong candidate – someone strong enough to beat McCain and Sarah Palin simultaneously in a state that previously gave that seat to Barry Goldwater for a lifetime.

  20. Micha Elyi Says:

    For those fretting that absent a filibuster nothing will stop Sen. Chuck “Cornhusker Kickback” Hagel (D-RINO) from being crowned Secretary of Defense, look at the history of presidential cabinet nominees. Next to none are filibustered. When their nominations fail, they’re given the thumbs down on a committee or floor vote, or withdraw themselves from consideration, or the President withdraws their nomination.

    I think what’s happening right now is some Senators are preparing the media battlespace prior to the (now delayed) vote in Sen. Levin’s committee. Momentum is now checked, the nominee’s confirmation is no longer a slam-dunk. Hagel may still get confirmed but now the yeah votes are going to cost some Senators and President Obama a piece of their political capital, it’s not a gimmee anymore. And if momemtum begins moving solidly the other way then McCain and others can say they played ‘nice’, didn’t filibuster, and the vote to confirm failed on the merits – or would have but for the President (or Hagel) saving everybody the unpleasantness by backing away.

    If the latter happens then who knows? Maybe Obama will tap Sen. McCain and raise the average level of personal integrity in both the Obama Administration and among Senate Republicans.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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