I honestly hate to write a negative piece about John McCain, because I can’t help but like him. I’ve known him a bit from my coverage of Capitol Hill, and he’s great to be around, he’s a gentleman, he’s honest, and of course, he’s a hero. And now, he’s dying.
He has always been a “maverick” and a “rebel.” I think it’s his personality. But ultimately, there is a self-indulgence to the man that puts himself before what’s right for the country.
I think some of it, maybe a lot of it, stems from his involvement in the Keating Five scandal back in the 1980s. He was cleared of charges, but something so precious to him, his honor, was tarnished. And so, I think, making sure people understand how honorable he is has become part of his life’s mission.
His vote against the Obamacare “repeal” bill last night, which sunk the measure, and his betrayal of the will of so many Republican voters, was not about the content of the bill. It was about process. The process wasn’t great, it’s true – Republicans were ramming repeal through just like the Democrats had rammed through passage – but most people not so rigid about their “honor” and so forth could just let it go and decide that Republicans have been promising to do this for seven years, it’s best for the country, and let’s move forward.
There are, indeed, times to stand on principle. This principle was not big enough for it given the enormity of the stakes.
But not John McCain. He had to show he adheres to higher standards than the rest of the Senate. And maybe there’s a bit of “screw you” to his GOP colleagues, latent liberal sentiments, a middle finger to Donald Trump – who said something about liking people who don’t get captured – and a desire for one last dramatic John McCain moment. “Wait for the show,” he told a reporter earlier in the day when asked how he’d vote.
But now I’m way over-psychoanalyzing.
But I know John McCain this morning feels good about himself. And the American people will suffer for it.