Is anyone else really really happy that John McCain is not our president? In a few years’ time, McCain has gone from maverick, to loose cannon, to a temper-tantrum throwing brat.
The latest example is the recent vote to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Once again, McCain has completely reversed his position. Once in favor of DADT, he flipped over and became one of its strongest opponents. During the debate on Saturday, he burst onto the floor of the Senate, and even though one of his fellow Republicans held the floor, he yelled and waved his arms and then stormed off. Then McCain returned and started yelling again. McCain was upset that he wasn’t given enough time during the debate, so they gave him additional time. But he spent that time making spurious attacks on the supporters of the bill:
“Today is a very sad day,” McCain announced, detailing his continuing opposition to allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to be open about their sexuality.
“There will be high-fives over all the liberal bastions of America,” he predicted, from “the elite schools that bar military recruiters from campus” to “the salons of Georgetown” and the “talk shows” where people — “most of whom have never have served in the military” — will crow over the law’s repeal.
Allowing gays to serve openly in the Marines would prove a potentially deadly distraction McCain said, quoting from a Marine Corps Commandant warning, “and I don’t want to permit that opportunity to happen.”
McCain also claimed that the repeal of DADT was “in direct repudiation of the message of the American people” even though polls show overwhelming support for it — a majority of Republicans, conservatives, and even white evangelical Protestants are in favor.
I’ve been completely confused over McCain’s behavior over the last few years as a hardliner, especially after he earned the title of “maverick” by famously bucking president Bush and other Republicans on many key issues. But there may be an explanation:
McCainologists in the Capitol speculate that on this and other issues he’s driven less by policy consideration than by personal animosity. A decade ago, his antipathy toward President George W. Bush led him to seek common cause with Democrats to thwart a Republican president. Now his antipathy toward President Obama has made him a leading Republican hardliner.
In other words, McCain doesn’t care one bit about the issues. It isn’t about whether gays should be able to serve openly in the military. And his opposition to Bush wasn’t about courageously standing up to bad policies. Bush beat McCain for the Republican nomination for president, and Obama beat McCain during the general election.
For McCain, it is all about revenge and hate.
UPDATE: Similar sentiments from Joe Klein:
McCain distinguished himself doubly this weekend, opposing the Dream Act [despite being one of the original sponsors of it] and leading the opposition to “Don’t Ask,” despite the very public positions of his wife and daughter on the other side of the issue. I used to know a different John McCain, the guy who proposed comprehensive immigration reform with Ted Kennedy, the guy — a conservative, to be sure, but an honorable one — who refused to indulge in the hateful strictures of his party’s extremists. His public fall has been spectacular, a consequence of politics — he “needed” to be reelected — and personal pique. He’s a bitter man now, who can barely tolerate the fact that he lost to Barack Obama. But he lost for an obvious reason: his campaign proved him to be puerile and feckless, a politician who panicked when the heat was on during the financial collapse, a trigger-happy gambler who chose an incompetent for his vice president. He has made quite a show ever since of demonstrating his petulance and lack of grace.