McCain, Bipartisanship, and the 'Congress Problem'
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 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 number two spot. The nation would have been far better off. But Republicans tend to fall in line, and Sen. Dole was next.
The differences between T.E. Lawrence and John McCain were 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 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 sendoff had he not been a member of Congress?
I think we know the answer to that. Yet McCain's service and sacrifice in the military were 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 both defeated him. Being defeated by another man is, for example, being sprawled out on the canvas after getting KOed 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 Robert 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 re-election 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 that 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 Democratic 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 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. Those congressmen 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. If the pendulum swings far enough left, it may not swing back. This is just one reason why 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 from Kansas City.