McCain, Bipartisanship, and the ‘Congress Problem’

by Jon N. Hall9/17/18
John McCain’s funeral at the National Cathedral brings to mind an admonition some will have heard in the cinematic recreation of a memorial at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London for T.E. Lawrence: “Well, nil nisi bonum” – “Of the dead, [say] nothing but good.”

With that in mind, know that this kid voted for McCain in two presidential primaries and in the 2008 general election, and doesn’t regret having done so, despite some of McCain’s policy positions. In fact, I now think that Republicans should have run McCain for president in 1996. Think of how different politics would have been had McCain been elected president in ’96 and had there been a woman or a minority in the #2 spot; the nation would have been far better off. But Republicans tend to fall in line, and Sen. Dole was next in line.

The differences between T.E. Lawrence and John McCain were rather stark. For one thing, Lawrence died at the age of 46, while McCain lived to just a week shy of his 82nd birthday. Also, Lawrence never became an elective politician. Even so, Lawrence had a very well-attended funeral, which included Winston and Clementine Churchill, author E. M. Forster, and Lady Astor (historical clip). But would the D.C. swamp have honored McCain with such a grand send-off had he not been a member of Congress?

I think we know the answer to that. Yet, it was McCain’s service and sacrifice in the military that was his more important contribution to America, not his time in Congress, even had his votes been more reliably conservative.

The press remarked that two of the speakers at McCain’s funeral, Bush and Obama, had defeated him. Being defeated by another man is, for example, being sprawled out on the canvas after getting KO’d by the man still standing. Is defeat when voters select someone else? If so, then if anyone defeated John McCain in his bids for the presidency, it was the American voter. Not only that, but when one includes Sen. Dole and Papa Bush, the American voter has recently “defeated” three American heroes in their runs for the presidency, electing less well-tested nominees instead.

Unfortunately, politics reared its ugly head at McCain’s funeral. It was nothing like the horrendous funeral of Sen. Paul Wellstone in 2002 (short video), but it was there. And of course there were the obligatory calls for bipartisanship.

One can say this for McCain’s idea of “reaching across the aisle”: one of his best bros was Joe Lieberman. Joe is one of the few decent Democrats of the last 50 years, which is why Democrats shunned him, forcing him to run for reelection as an Independent. Joe was one of the three amigos, and McCain asked him to be his running mate. That ticket would have won.

Republican members of Congress should forget about bipartisanship. Democrats don’t care about bipartisanship. Democrats’ idea of compromise and reaching across the aisle is: you come over to us.

What the Dems really want is hegemony; they must be in control. They don’t want there to be an effective opposition party. Reasonable people think America needs two effective parties; one slightly to the right of center and one slightly to the left of center. But it should now be apparent to everyone that the Democrats are way out on the far left. If they adhered to any positions they were more statist, more extreme, they’d be bumping up against authoritarianism.

After the splendid 2016 elections, now is the time for voters to punish the Democrats in the coming midterms so that others can rebuild the party into something decent and American. Only in ruin will the Democrats ever reform.

Unfortunately, certain “conservatives” have been advising that Republicans do the opposite and vote Democrat this fall. Their “Trump derangement” is so far gone that they no longer can identify the true domestic enemy of everything American. It’s especially disappointing when revered conservative columnists urge such destructive tactics, for now is the time to crush the Democrat party, so that it can become decent and American.

This writer has been reading and appreciating the columns of George Will since at least the eighties. So it’s very disappointing to read his Washington Post column of June 22: “Vote against the GOP this November.” Despite the ugly headline, there’s actually some good stuff in the short piece. But the point of the article, what Will is urging Republican voters to do, is monumentally ill-advised:

The congressional Republican caucuses must be substantially reduced. So substantially that their remnants, reduced to minorities, will be stripped of the Constitution’s Article I powers that they have been too invertebrate to use against the current wielder of Article II powers. They will then have leisure time to wonder why they worked so hard to achieve membership in a legislature whose unexercised muscles have atrophied because of people like them.

If Mr. Will is urging voting for Scandinavian-style socialists today, will he be advocating voting for National Socialists tomorrow to give Republican members even more “leisure time” to think on their sins?

Perhaps Will was having a “senior moment” when he wrote that column. Let’s hope Will will soon come to his senses, compose a mea culpa, and advise what this kid is advising: vote out the rest of the Dems now to give them the “leisure time” to recreate their party with real Americans, and fix the Republican Party later.

It’s true that our current GOP Congress has disappointed. They weren’t able to repeal Obamacare (thanks to Sen. McCain). Ending the “individual mandate” was a consolation prize, but it can easily be stuck back in if Democrats take over Congress and then use reconciliation. The main Republican successes in Congress have been the tax cuts for corporations and the Senate’s approval of Trump’s stellar judicial nominations.

The pendulum no longer swings back and forth over the political center; instead, the pendulum swings from just left of the center over to the far left. And if the pendulum swings far enough left, it may not swing back. Which is just one reason Will’s voting advice is so dangerous. (I can’t believe I’m taking on George Will, one of my heroes. Maybe the Post’s owner, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.)

Sen. McCain was not a “movement conservative,” he had a mix of positions, and some were faulty, like the idea of bipartisanship, whose time is long gone. Since McCain was the “Lion of the Senate,” he should have known that you can’t be bipartisan with hyenas. Out on the veldt, lions despise hyenas with all their being. Hating hyenas is what lions do; it’s in their DNA.

With the loss of John McCain, the Senate will be a less virtuous place, and a lot less interesting. If Arizonans want to honor Senator McCain, they should vote in November for another fighter pilot – Martha McSally.

Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. • (94 views)

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13 Responses to McCain, Bipartisanship, and the ‘Congress Problem’

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Regarding my choice of the thumbnail photo to go with this: If there is to be an article about John McCain’s funeral at StubbornThings, Mrs. Palin will certainly be attending.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, that’s who I voted for in 2008, after all. And if McCain had gone ahead and named Lieberman as his VP instead, I doubt I could have voted for the ticket. No matter his personal good points, there’s hardly anything I agree with Lieberman about (and not enough with McCain, either). McCain had the typical pre-Trump GOP flaw of failing to fight as hard to defeat the Demagogues as they do their intra-party foes. This is why my article on the election was titled “An Army of One Against the Audacity of Hype” — the “army of one” was Sarah Palin.

      • Rosalys says:

        I, too, voted for Sarah Palin. Notice how she wasn’t invited to take part in the McCain Memorial extravaganza? Lot of spite coming out there, despite Sarah never having anything but good things to say about McCain. She’s a better person than McCain ever was.

        Lion of the Senate? I thought that was Chappaquidick Ted? Which only goes to show how low the bar for lion-hood has become!

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I believe they also called Kleagle Byrd the conscience of the Senate. The honorary title previously belonged to John Williams of Delaware, who actually deserved it.

    • Rosalys says:

      It is an excellent choice, Brad!

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    With the loss of John McCain, the Senate will be a less virtuous place, and a lot less interesting.

    On what do you base this assertion? He was simply another ambitious politician who craved the cameras. The man was a spiteful slug. This has been confirmed by various people over McCain’s career.

    Had McCain gone through his Vietnam experience and stayed out of politics, he would have been respected as an American hero. The moment he stepped into politics was the moment his Vietnam experience lost much of its relevance. From that point forward, the man had to be judged, in large part, on his political and public life. As I wrote elsewhere, Sam Johnson who was held longer and suffered as much, has never played up his period as a POW the way McCain did. Yes, I say McCain did as I don’t doubt for a moment that he promoted this episode of his life for political purposes.

    You mention that the Republican Congress has been disappointing, but apparently fail to notice that a reason for this is that many Reps are of the same disposition as McCain i.e. not conservatives but actually center of left or big government statists. The only reason many ran as Republicans is that in many cases, a Dim would not win in their districts.

    As an aside, T.E. Lawrence was a much more interesting character than McCain, who was in effect just another Navy pilot. What Lawrence did in Arabia was unique.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I read The Seven Pillars of Wisdom many years ago. He actually had the title before the war, as a book on Arab culture and history. He then used it for his war memoir. As I recall, Lawrence later went into the RAF, though not during wartime. The post-funeral scene in the movie was probably accurate at least in reflecting the diverse views of Lawrence.

  3. Steve Lancaster says:

    I too voted for McCain in 08, not because he was republican, or moral or ethical. He gave up those monikers when he hooked up with Keating. He demonstrated his ability to reach across the aisle, the other four were democrats. I am convinced he took bribes, as did Cranston, Glenn, DiConconi, and Reigie.

    All of them should have been run out of office, tarred and feathered on a rail. Sadly, McCain’s status as a POW and Glenn’s status as an astronaut kept all of them in office and out of jail. If McCain had any virtue, he left it in Hanoi.

    Still, the alternative, the smarmy Obama won. Not because he was qualified, skilled or even popular, but because of his ethnic background. The 8 long years of his administration give proof to his massive lack of qualifications.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Except for McCain, the Keating 5 soon left. Cranston retired in 1992 and was replaced by Barbara Poxer. Dennis DeConcini retired in 1994 and was replaced by Jon Kyl (who has now temporarily replaced McCain). Riegle retired in 1994 and was replaced by Spencer Abraham. Glenn won a hard-fought re-election in 1992 against Michael DeWine, who then won an open seat in 1994. Glenn finally retired in 1998 and was replaced by George Voinovich.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        Respectfully Tim,
        All of them should have gone to jail, and the crimes were committed as early as 1980. There is no moral or ethical high ground for this bunch.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Well, it didn’t come out until a decade or so later. Of course they got off lightly, since they only faced action by the Senate Ethics Committee, which is infamous for doing nothing. So being forced to retire was the most they faced, and we don’t know how many would have retired anyway. (Cranston was elected in 1968, Glenn in 1974, and Riegle and DeConcini in 1976.)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks, Steve. Ditto. You saved me a lot of typing. Which is not to say that what you said was not very well said. It was. I should hope to express it so succinctly and clearly.

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