Trump Makes His Move Against John McCain. IT’S ABOUT TIME!
Five and a half years after Senator John McCain killed off what was left of The Maverick — the independent-thinking, “not afraid to tell it like it is” character he’d been LARPing since the 2000 Republican primary — in order to win a contentious primary against Tea Party challenger J.D. Hayworth, he’s facing the prospect of the end of his career once again.
This time, it’s against a state senator who’s perfectly content with grifting votes at a Donald Trump rally. McCain’s seat has been targeted by conservative groups for years now to no avail, but this time, it’s a fair question to ask if McCain’s heart is in it anymore. And even if it is: Does anyone even care?
McCain went from being the leader of the party in 2008 to the poster boy for RINOism almost immediately after, and the right wing was emboldened by his loss to blame his — and later, Mitt Romney’s — perceived lack of conservatism for the party’s failure to keep Barack Obama out of the White House. Over the past couple of years he’s been at the forefront of a very public argument with ultraconservatives like Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul for control of the party, and McCain’s tendency to work with Democrats on a few different issues have made him the right wing’s biggest internal enemy.
Even McCain’s military career has, however cynically, come into question of late. Back in July, Donald Trump insulted John McCain by saying he “liked people who weren’t captured,” a reference to McCain being a prisoner of war for five-and-a-half years in Vietnam. Bill Kristol swore that this would eventually kill Trump’s insurgent campaign, and the political press questioned whether or not Trump had finally gone too far. Five months later, he’s still here, and still dominating in the polls.
Not leading the polling for president, coincidentally, is Senator Lindsey Graham, whom McCain endorsed to run essentially the same campaign he did in 2008. Graham, a foreign policy hawk who has shown a willingness to compromise with Democrats on issues such as climate change and immigration, didn’t participate in a single one of the main GOP debates, and polled with a quarter of the support that Mike Huckabee has before dropping out of the race in mid-December.
Graham, who’s been embraced as One of the Good Republicans in this primary despite his propensity to want perpetual war with multiple countries at a time, took a shot at a few of the frontrunners in the race in his farewell video, claiming his campaign made “enormous progress” in fighting the “isolationist” wing of his party. Given that Graham essentially ran a campaign that was the spiritual successor to McCain’s two runs — he was the only Republican to slam Trump from the start — this is a round rebuke of that brand of conservatism.