WASHINGTON, July 29, 2013 — Lately, Republicans of all political stripes are scratching their heads and asking, “What’s with John McCain?”
He has always been a pesky, even cranky senator, priding himself on being a maverick. But lately he has been cozying up to President Obama, who is an anathema to Republicans. For die-hard conservatives this is akin “to sleeping with the enemy.”
Worse yet, he has been siphoning off other Republicans with him, turning them away from the party’s position of anything Obama wants is dead on arrival. Kill it, repeal it, smash it in the media, stomp on it in your home district. The GOP has stood united in its obstructionism for the past few years, but now the wall of solidarity is showing real cracks, worrying Republican leaders, especially the likes of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate Minority Leader, who is up for election in 2014 and feels most vulnerable this time around.
McConnell doesn’t want compromise. He can’t afford to compromise. After all, as he infamously said right after Obama was elected president, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” He failed at that, but now he is out to destroy anything Obama, even if it means a train wreck for the country.
Only his plan has run into a maverick trying to stampede the Republican herd. Sen. McCain is acting like the ornery bull McConnell can’t corral, the one that keeps running off with the prize cows. It makes McConnell look like a mighty bad wrangler.
So is this a reprise of the Chris Christie/Obama bromance of last fall? Once nasty rivals, McCain and Obama are forging an alliance on many issues to put an end to the gridlock in Congress, caused by the House Republicans and some GOP senators. Vitriolic partisanship has been the Congressional MO since President Obama took office, but in the last two years it has evolved to a point where Congress has basically stopped working, undermining the economic recovery and sending Congress’ approval plummeting to 12%, the lowest in history.
As we head into the fall, things are about to get uglier. When Congress returns from its five-week August vacation, vociferous Republicans have vowed that if necessary, they will shut down the government if they don’t get their way.
But Sen. McCain is having none of these GOP temper tantrums, and in the Senate, he is already leading like-minded Republicans to stand up to McConnell and thwart any further obstructionism.
Just look at what McCain has already done:
- He was the influential senator that steered immigration reform through the Senate with a bipartisan majority.
- He has been forceful in publicly slapping down some in his own party, including far Right conservatives Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), when they dissolved into bellicose and confrontational politics.
- McCain has vigorously urged his comrades in the Senate not to block budget negotiations with the House. He sees the need to end sequestration, even if that means an increase in tax revenue.
- Not only did he support giving the President an up or down vote on his picks for cabinet and agency heads, he is alone out there, saying Obama’s three nominees to the D.C. Court of Appeals should not be filibustered.
Is this the new, improved John McCain, having banished his other self, the vitriolic McCain, who, still smarting after his defeat by Obama in 2008, was determined to take down Obama? What changed besides time passing and that Obama won again?
Or is it that McCain sees the handwriting on the wall for his party: that it is ultimately doomed if he doesn’t do something, knowing there will never be a Republican president if the GOP continues down this path.
Perhaps it isn’t that Sen. McCain hates Republicans, as so many on the Right subscribe, but that he actually loves the Republican Party and is trying to save it from itself. Or is it already too late for the GOP? It’s beginning to look that way.
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.
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