“All right, Mr. McCain, I’m ready for my close-up.”
Delusions Norma Desmond would be proud of.
Let us start by stating a fact: John McCain is a true American hero. His military service, and even much of his political career, is to be praised and appreciated. He has given his life to public service, and I truly respect that.
But Mr. McCain has officially jumped the shark.
Sen. McCain along with with comrade-at-arms Sen. Lindsey Graham seem to believe they live in an alternate universe, apart from the rest of America. Their delusions of grandeur run rampant, as they proceed without any thought or care greater than their foreign policy vision. And most definitely, separate from the Party they seem to still think they are members of.
Just hours after Sen. Rand Paul finished his much praised, much watched and much talked about 12 hour filibuster to (successfully) force the Obama administration to admit that drone strikes cannot be used on American soil except in situations of imminent threat, both Sens. McCain and Graham, without Democrat support no less, went to the floor of the Senate to attack, not Barack Obama or Eric Holder, but…Rand Paul.
Now, let us put aside the drone issue. Clearly, I believe McCain and Graham are on the substance of the issue incorrect. But that doesn’t even matter to the point at hand.
The point is, Misters McCain and Graham think of themselves as a Party of 2. They are only Republicans when it serves their own personal interest. The remainder of the time, they look at themselves as mavericks. And being a maverick is great, except when it isn’t.
Right now, it isn’t.
No one is saying they had to agree with Sen. Paul. Disagree all you like. But even if you disagree, going to the floor of the Senate to basically insult someone who is, theoretically at least, on your own team is insanity.
Oblivious as these two are, they have no understanding for the optics of the situation. While Sen. Paul was on the floor of the Senate, these two men were having dinner with…President Obama. Then, less than a day later, they are on the floor of the Senate, attacking one of their own. They could have held their fire, for one day. They could have written an editorial over the weekend in the New York Times. They could have made their opinions known in a respectable way. They decided on another, less dignified path.
This was a pivotal moment for the GOP, a moment where they stood for what was right, in a bipartisan manner no less…and these guys didn’t like it. Not one bit. Even establishment Republicans like Saxby Chambliss joined. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to hold the vote until Rand Paul was satisfied with the administration’s legal answer on the drone attacks. The GOP sent out instant messages, rallying the troops, asking other Senators to join the filibuster, and raising money on the issue. The Republican party, for once, was unified.
Except for the party of 2.
In fact, this was probably the strongest bipartisan issue opposing Obama since he became President. Liberals, progressives, libertarians and conservatives, to one degree or another, joined Sen. Paul in his cry for civil liberties. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) promised to subpoena the Department of Justice to get the legal arguments for the drone strikes. Sen. Ron Wyden (D) went so far to go to the Senate floor to applaud him. People believed in the cause.
Except, of course, for the dynamic duo.
I have often used this argument with my conservative brethren when it comes to talking about moderates in our party. The likes of McCain and Graham have been the source of many fights on my end. I defend them, saying that I don’t agree with them, but they are part of the team. They are a member of the GOP. Let Democrats do the attacking, we don’t need to be a circular firing squad.
At some point, when your allies keep stabbing you in the back, you have to shake your head, and walk away. This may be that moment for me.
For John McCain, this has been a sad, slow descent into utter irrelevancy. He and Graham are in a tiny and ever growing smaller caucus that believes in more power for the unitary Executive, more intervention overseas, and a bolder American foreign policy. The third member of their three amigos, Joe Lieberman, has already been put out to pasture.
For reasons unknown to me, Barack Obama and other Democrats have followed these two down the primrose path, to one extent or another. We have seen this in Libya, in Syria, and to some extent in places like Mali. We have certainly seen it in issues like drones and the Patriot Act. And if Sen. McCain and Sen Graham want to follow that path, more power to them.
But sooner rather than later, they are likely to notice there is no Party standing behind them.
This was cross posted at the Spitcracker Picayune.