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Possibly the Last Act in the Most Overrated Career in Recent Political History

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I hope John McCain can muster one last expression of concern before returning to Washington cast a critical vote to deny tens of millions of Americans the health care they need while he attempts to recover thanks to his great health care plan.

Extra mavericky!

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  • Murc

    The twisted irony here is that if John McCain lived in a modern country, there’d be a high-speed train to carry him back to DC swiftly, cheaply, and in great comfort.

    But of course, he’s spent his whole career stopping us from being a modern country.

    • reattmore

      We’re going to have to deal with, “John McCain died as he lived, nobly spending his last reserves of strength to make a difference in delivering health care to millions of Americans,” as McCain’s deathbed appeal sways his fellow moderates.

      Puke.

      • sigaba

        Ted Kennedy: felled by brain cancer a year too early.

        John McCain: felled by brain cancer a year too late.

        • Ten yrs. too late, based on the Biblical allotment of three-score & ten.

          • sigaba

            That only applies to Union Pacific brakemen.

    • UserGoogol

      I mean, I don’t like making the excuse that America is a big country, but in this instance, Phoenix to DC would be as far as I can tell the longest high speed rail line in the world, and it’s not like they’d just draw a straight line between those cities. Rail should be much better, but transcontinental high speed rail poses unique issues.

  • Thom

    I still say his assholery is consistent with his having agreed to bomb people in Vietnam (note, he was not a draftee).

    • TopsyJane

      McCain comes of a military family so there are special pressures there. I’m inclined to give him a pass on that. A lot of people served believing that it was the right thing to do and/or their duty to do.

      As for this – if he does come back specifically for this vote I offer my sincerest hope
      that it kills him and in doing so it costs him time he might otherwise have had. He will truly deserve nothing better for the attempt to deprive millions of our most vulnerable people of health care coverage. Just a vile, vile thing to do.

      • Considering both his grand-pappy & pappy were four-star admirals, which considerably greased the skids of his otherwise crummy naval career, wasn’t that much of a choice.

        This whole article is pretty good, but here’s the essential part:

        Still cocky from the previous day’s kills, McCain took the biggest gamble of his life. As he dived in on the target in his A-4, his surface-to-air missile warning system sounded: A SAM had a lock on him. “I knew I should roll out and fly evasive maneuvers,” McCain writes. “The A-4 is a small, fast” aircraft that “can outmaneuver a tracking SAM.”

        But McCain didn’t “jink.” Instead, he stayed on target and let fly his bombs — just as the SAM blew his wing off.

        Trump was right. Fucking loser. The Navy should make Mrs. McCain’s exclusive Budweiser distribution franchise pay for the A-4 he lost.

        • twbb

          He was what, 21 years old? You’re allowed to be stupid at 21.

          • Pete

            And he’s hardly the only fighter/bomber pilot to ever take unwise risks.

            • Drew

              He was no John Boyd though.

          • Lost Left Coaster

            That’s a wholly inadequate excuse for making a major error while engaging in a lethal bombing mission.

          • 31, & he’d already messed up at least two aircraft. See the Rolling Stone thing, it has all his history.

            • twbb

              Ahh, had the math messed up.

            • Moonman von Superdog

              Two crashes, an “incident” which should have ended his career, the Forrestal fire, then Vietnam.

              • In all fairness, the Forrestal fire was not in any way his fault, ‘though one can question his behavior afterwards. But it was probably the best for all concerned that he went to the ready room & watched it on the CCTV rather than staying on the flight or hangar decks & trying to help.

    • Pete

      That’s a remarkably dumb comment, but it’s a free country.

    • fearandloathing

      I can’t say that I was willing to risk the violent reaction I would have got, but back in 2008 when the GOP was going on and on endlessly about Obama’s minor connection to a Bill Ayers who had already given up violence decades ago, I want to remind them “John McCain also knows somebody who bombed and killed a lot of people back in the 60’s. His name’s John McCain.”

  • TheBrett

    McCain is a living embodiment of how the Washington Press establishment and junket press in general will give you a big pass if you come on their shows regularly, charm them, and sound off like a “reasonable conservative” who “gets it” – and how they’ll continue to do that long after you’ve stopped bothering to show up for them in that way. It’s like how Paul Ryan was coasting on his reputation as a supposed “Serious Conservative” and policy wonk for years despite evidence to the contrary.

  • patrick II

    The odds are McCain won’t live long enough to run again. He doesn’t even have the excuse of ambition to take away the health care from over twenty million people. Just pure meanness

    • Captain_Subtext

      My father died from a glioblastoma; the average lifespan after diagnosis is quite short, IIRC 6-18 months.

  • howard

    the smart money continues to remain that the moderates fold and mcconnell knows how to count, and until it’s proven that the smart money is wrong, i’m going to be afraid, very afraid.

    • Erik Loomis

      Yeah, this suggests to me that McConnell knows he needs 1 more vote. Might give Heller cover to vote no. Not good.

      • brad nailer

        Jesus, don’t these people have constituents?

        • Ramon A. Clef

          The Koch brothers, you mean?

        • NeonTrotsky

          If Heller votes for this he’s reading the 2018 election pretty poorly honestly. The sate’s trending Democratic, and the state democratic party is a well oiled machine.

          • Erik Loomis

            Yeah, I think he will lose if this passes. Reid will use all his power to crush him and its not like Brian Sandoval will help him at that point.

          • DamnYankeesLGM

            As others have pointed out, he may think that he’s screwed in 2018 no matter what since he’ll be painted with this bill anyways, so he might as well vote for it, appease his colleagues and donors and grease the skids for a soft landing.

            • Exactly. He can’t get wingnut welfare if he breaks with the Party on the critical vote.

          • brad nailer

            Can’t wait for 2018! Oh, wait, oceans will have risen another half inch and temperatures another half a degree. Let me rephrase . . .

        • DAS

          Yes. And those constituents can be persuaded by the old “this bill deserves a vote” argument, considering this is a procedural vote.

          • twbb

            The vast majority of voters don’t differentiate between procedural votes and substantive votes.

            • mausium

              But what about Republicans? Give them a specious story…

              • twbb

                It works on maybe their core 25% base, but a procedural vote that leads to people seeing their healthcare at risk is going to be seen by too many people as taking their healthcare away.

                • mausium

                  As with any optimism, I Want To Believe.

                  All that makes so much more sense in isolation but when the GOP has its own news organ that “moderate” Republicans cling to and even the mainstream sources for the most part coddle their most dumb-wrong of views, I hope you’re correct but I don’t see anything that would shake enough Republicans to change their votes.

                • mausium

                  Yeah well, I doubt it when these people listen to Fox. We’ve said a lot of things couldn’t happen and here we are.

                • twbb

                  Healthcare is Different ™. They can angry up their blood when Fox says Obama is going to throw them into FEMA death camps because they know deep in their hearts it’s not true; it’s recreational anger. This can very well kill them.

          • brad nailer

            I guess we’re about to find out.

        • slavdude

          No, they have “principles”, or so I’m told. To listen to their constituents means that they’re more concerned with the fickle public.

    • twbb

      Is it smart money if it keeps getting lost on these predictions? McCain doesn’t change the dynamic much; he was already probably on board (though he was a little unclear about that). McConnell has to look like he’s trying hard, and holding a vote that he knows he probably will lose could be a much better option for his future than not holding a vote at all.

      • DamnYankeesLGM

        Doesn’t McCain change the dynamic alot? If he votes then they can afford 2 dissenters. If he doesn’t vote they can only afford 1. No?

        • twbb

          It changes it in theory, but at the current point there were far more than 2 dissenters. Even with McCain propped up at his seat in the Senate chambers, they don’t have the votes.

      • howard

        i will only say it ain’t over until it’s over, and i’d love for the smart money to be wrong.

        • Lurking Canadian

          By my count, it’s been over at least three times already. This thing is like the Quebec sovereignty referrenda. We need to win each time. They only need to win once.

  • nick056

    DFW’s long essay on McCain’s 2000 primary campaign, Up Simba, holds up nicely. Way back as a young lad, I was caught up in his Straight Talkin’ 2000 bid, before I saw the light about the GOP. And it’s fine to remember the few moments of grace from his 2008 run.

    But overall, his legacy is empty to me. He was never as consistent an opponent of torture as he needed to be, and his grasp of healthcare and energy policy was very shallow. Beyond the gaffes about being in Iraq for one hundred years, his foreign policy had plenty of steely nobility, but no careful diplomacy. He was a symbol of bipartisanship and a practitioner of party-line voting. And if he doesn’t recover, he will be eulogized by the president who insulted him in the most garish fashion imaginable, but whom he still supports.

    • sigaba

      I always had the impression that DFW was totally sold on McCain– also I can’t help noticing DFW committed suicide around the time of the 2008 run. Not that it was a decisive or essential factor or anything.

    • Drew

      McCain internalized one of the most important lessons in modern politics very early in his career: words speak louder than actions.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        “McCain internalized one of the most important lessons in modern politics very early in his career: words speak louder than actions IOKIYAR

        Cf. McCain’s shabby treatment of his first wife; Keating Nine; etc.

        • Captain_Subtext

          The Keating Five. McCain had a hand in the demise of the S&L industry and still skated away.

          • Snarki, child of Loki

            Correction gladly accepted!

            Now why did I think there were more corrupt GOP greedheads involved? I blame inflation.

            • Captain_Subtext

              LOL. It could have been the Keating 11 over time. I only knew this because I was in AZ at the time, was politically aware, and watched as this all escalated to destroy the S&L I used at the time, Western Savings. Deregulation and Reagan certainly where complicit, but AZ was then and still is run by land developers rapaciously devouring the desert.

    • efgoldman

      But overall, his legacy is empty to me. He was never as consistent an
      opponent of torture as he needed to be, and his grasp of healthcare and
      energy policy was very shallow

      Bog-standard Southwestern RWNJ. Steal it if it’s not nailed down, spend it on whatever goodies the Pentagon wants, be “concerned” for the retirees in Arizona.
      Works every time

    • Drew

      “if he doesn’t recover, he will be eulogized by the president who insulted him in the most garish fashion imaginable”

      I hate to be crass (not really, just feel like I need to say that) but I will thoroughly enjoy that and every other eulogy of a Republican dickwad Trump manages to completely butcher.

  • hellslittlestangel

    Last act deaths in overblown melodramas — from grand opera to slasher flicks — tend to go on for a long fucking time.

  • DamnYankeesLGM

    Maybe I’m missing something, but I still don’t understand the math here.

    Collins is a no.

    If you gut Medicaid, then Capito and Murkowski are nos.

    If you don’t gut Medicaid, then you’re back to where you were a week ago, with Paul and Lee (and perhaps others) being a no.

    I don’t understand how anything has changed since last week such that they’d win this MTP. I’m not saying it can’t, but I’m confused as to how.

    • sigaba

      Capito will vote aye on MTP.

      They will get 51 votes for MTP on the basis that the bill is a unicorn and everyone will say they only did it to “stay in the conversation” or they “didn’t want to obstruct” or “they’re counting on the leadership/conference committee/CMS regs to improve the bill.”

      • Capito will vote aye on MTP.

        Shit, has this been confirmed yet?

        • twbb

          No, it hasn’t.

      • DamnYankeesLGM

        I don’t understand how these people are knowingly and openly letting themselves get played.

        • sigaba

          They’ve been telling people for a decade Obamacare must be repealed and don’t you worry with what. It was inevitable what they were going to vote on themselves would be, down to angstrom, exactly that proposition.

        • D_J_H

          I don’t mean this to be snide, but I think it’s because they want to be played.

          • Dennis Orphen

            Ache is the term. They don’t just want to be played. They ache to be played.

            • D_J_H

              The great thing about being played, from their perspective, is that they get what they want (sweet, sweet tax cuts and hurting the poor) without any of those nagging feelings of responsibility.

        • Jean-Michel

          They’re not getting played. No Republican actually cares about health care for the rabble—if they did then they wouldn’t be Republicans. Those who purport to oppose stripping millions of their coverage do so only because they fear for their careers. Among those Rs the argument isn’t whether to push ahead but who will get a pass to vote against. When it comes down to the crunch, just enough of them will vote their true consciences to ensure passage.

      • Drew

        So if it does proceed, and the filibuster isn’t abolished (either de facto or de jure), what’s on the table/chopping block? Keeping track of all this is giving me a headache.

    • reattmore

      Lots of the “moderate” R noes–Heller, for example–haven’t said much lately

  • NeonTrotsky

    I’m confused, what are they even trying to hold a vote on at this point? The bill in which half its contents can’t pass under reconciliation rules? A straight repeal that like four senators have said they wouldn’t vote to even consider? Something else entirely?

    • DamnYankeesLGM

      I *think* the goal is that they are voting to proceed on a mushy bill which can be amended, and that McConnell is telling everyone what they want to hear, and their hope is that when they get down to the actual vote on the final bill, the pressure on any dissenter would be great enough it would make them crack.

      Now, to me, this just seems very obvious and also a really shitty way for a majority leader to treat his peers. But apparently 98% of those peers are ok with it?

      • DAS

        That’s how Fox is pushing a the vote: it’s only a vote to proceed, so any Republican, even if they have concerns about the bill, ought to vote to proceed. Any Republican who votes against proceeding will not survive a primary if Fox continues pushing voting to proceed as they’ve been doing.

        • Drew

          Does no Fox viewer question beyond that? A vote to proceed on *what* though?

      • NeonTrotsky

        It certainly seems like a bad way for a caucus leader to treat his caucus members if he ever wants to get them to do anything for him again

    • Right now, it’s a vote to proceed with the House bill. Which HAS been cleared for reconciliation by the parliamentarian.

  • AuRevoirGopher

    “To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee; For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.” McCain to Obama (i.e. “That one.”)

    • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

      “He’s not an Arab, he’s a decent family man.”

  • jmwallach

    Compare to Byrd’s willingness to be pushed out in a wheelchair at midnight vote for ACA.

    • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

      And?

      • Dr. Acula

        The difference between “I will come, in a wheelchair, to help millions of people get access to healthcare”, versus “I will fly across the country with a brain tumor to strip healthcare away from millions of people”? That comparison.

  • pianomover

    It’s important to remember that people as wealthy as the McCains or Trump self-insure. Insurance is for suckers.

    • NeonTrotsky

      McCain doesn’t though to my knowledge, he gets his life long top quality health plan through the federal government as a member of the Senate

      • Davebo

        Then he’s on the ACA’s DC exchange.

        More likely he gets a combination of VA care and private care financed by his wife.

  • LeeEsq

    The Republican tax cut masquerading as a healthcare bill seems to be going into cartoon mode right now. This the time when the villain presses on in vain even despite meeting every setback possible.

    • “I could’ve passed it, if it weren’t for you kids and that stinky dog!”

  • Thom

    FWIW, I was told by doctors not to fly for at least 3 months after brain surgery to relieve a subdural hematoma.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      Clearly McCain is made of sterner stuff than Thom.

      I suggest he get some sky-diving in on his way back to the Senate.

      • jmwallach

        If you’re going to kill a lot of people you might as well militarize it and also enter with panache.

        • Hogan

          By some accounts, that’s the story of McCain’s life.

      • I believe there’s a truck waiting at a WalMart just one state over, with an experienced driver!

      • Thom

        In response to Snarki, very true re “sterner stuff.” Torture does not sound like fun.

    • jmwallach

      That’s why Coryn is picking him up in an RV.

      • D_J_H

        Weekend at Bernie’s III: Healthcare Vote Electric Boogaloo

        • “Electric Boogaloo” only works for the first sequel in a series.

          • wjts

            “Session of the Witch”?

          • D_J_H

            Good point.

    • There are a few places in the body where a small difference in pressure can be lethal even without an operation, like a Valsalva maneuver, which is how my great-grandfather died on the porcelain throne.

      • Hogan

        Ngaah. I’m sorry for your loss.

        • My grandfather was terrified that he would die the same way.

          I never knew the guy, met him once, but that is how nobody wants to die. That’s how Evelyn Waugh bought it, BTW.

    • Drew

      Last time McCain ignored orders related to flying, didn’t end so well for him.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        McCain would have to have a hole in his head to ignore medical advice and rush back to the Senate for the vote.

        Fortunately for McConnell, he does.

        • Wapiti

          From McConnell’s perspective, he probably wins whether McCain lives through the adventure or not. Either he gets a critical vote, or he gets to blame the MTP on a dying man, or McCain dies and the bill is shelved so they can focus on the debt ceiling. win-win-win.

        • Deborah Bender

          What has he got to lose? What McCain has to look forward to is unpleasant, debilitating treatments to slow down his inevitable demise, which will probably be preceded by increasing dementia. The only way to make the prospect of this kind of suffering meaningful is to do one’s best to die with one’s boots on.

          Isn’t anyone here capable of imagining himself in the other guy’s shoes?

          • mausium

            Of course we can, but it usually requires a Silkwood shower afterwards.

    • Joe Paulson

      what about trains? bus (find the Straight Talk Express)?

      If necessary, they can hire a private ambulance.

      • MikeG

        He could take one of our great network of high-speed cross-country trai….oh, wait, that’s Europe. Or Japan. Or China.

  • Ash

    Christ. They’re *that* determined to pass something? My mom had brain surgery and couldn’t fly for three months. And while she was competent enough for daily independent living, she was constantly forgetting things and dealing with a lack of focus that would have made it hard to competently vote on, say, oh, major legislation affecting millions of people. I would bet that McCain is not doing much better.

    • BigHank53

      Don’t worry–they’ll have a staffer ready to stick his finger on the right button, even if it’s getting a little stiff.

  • Origami Isopod

    Thanks for this, Loomis. The hushed, respectful encomia around McCain in the last week have been nauseating.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    “I spent the next 5 years in a POW camp, forced to subsist on a thin stew of maverickyness, rogue-iousity, and the chance that someday I might get to chance to rip health coverage away from millions of working poor people and children, thereby sticking my thumb in the eye of the guy that beat me for President.”

  • arangalanga

    McCain ahead always reminded me of Lord Rust, from the Discworld series.

  • Wojciech

    I have no idea what kind of relationship McCain has with McConnell, Cornyn, or even his co-Senator Flake. but given the nasty shit that Trump said about him on the campaign trail, i have to wonder whether McCain would willingly take one for The Donald. especially if he may die doing so.

    the whole thing is a sick parody of Ted Kennedy’s ACA vote. the GOP is just that shameless.

    • JBC31187

      I really don’t get some of these people. I understand that they’re mean-spirited little shits, sure. They enjoy fucking people over. But so much so that they’ll take this kind of abuse?

      • mausium

        They’re all kind of subby to authoritarians.

  • nominal

    Let me be the first person to break the rules of decorum.

    I hope that motherfucker dies on the plane. Better him than 10,000 innocent Americans desperate for lifesaving drugs.

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