From David Corn at POLITICS DAILY:
John McCain & Lindsey Graham: The Mean Girls of the U.S. Senate
I have a theory about human social evolution: life doesn’t progress much after high school. This week, I can thank John McCain and Lindsey Graham for providing empirical data that supports this hypothesis.
Here’s how government should work: lawmakers ponder the great issues of the day in serious manner and then decide, according to their own beliefs and values, which policies are best for their constituents and the public. But in the past few days, we’ve seen government-by-hissy-fit, with Sens. McCain and Graham, the Batman and Robin of cranky self-proclaimed GOP mavericks, placing personal petulance ahead of the common good.
As the Senate on Saturday was in the process of repealing the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bans out-in-the-open gays and lesbians from serving in the military, McCain practically threw a tantrum on the Senate floor, decrying “this bizarro world” and denouncing senators in favor of repeal for “acting in direct repudiation of the message of the American people.” (Never mind that most polls show majority support for repealing DADT.)
How to explain this? It seemed more personal than policy — as in he really doesn’t fancy seeing a victory for President Obama, the fellow who prevented McCain from becoming BMOC.
Graham’s behavior was more outlandish. On Sunday, the South Carolina Republican said that he wouldn’t vote for the START treaty that will reduce U.S. and Russian nuclear arms because “this lame duck [congressional session] has been poisoned.” And what poisoned it? In part, Graham said, it was the passage of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. Here was a U.S. senator saying he wouldn’t take up the critical issue of nuclear nonproliferation because he was peeved by the repeal of DADT, which sailed through on a 65-to-31 vote. Governing via tantrum?
It gets worse. The day before the Senate overturned DADT, Graham was complaining that the workload in the Senate was too much for him and he was too close to physical collapse to handle a vote on START [...]
Poor Graham. Many Americans work more than one job just to feed their family and to keep from being tossed out of their home. Yet he was bellyaching about some end-of-the-year heavy-lifting that was occurring because the Senate, partly due to GOP obstructionism, had not finished its important business. By the way, the START treaty was signed by the United States and Russia in April; that had allowed Graham and other senators plenty of time to think about it.
And it gets worse. On Monday, the Huffington Post reported that early last week, McCain and Graham had tried to cut a deal with the White House: they offered to deliver enough GOP votes to ratify the START treaty, if Obama and the Democrats would sideline any vote on DADT. The White House said no, thanks.
When McCain and Graham didn’t get their way, Graham groused he was too overwhelmed to deal with the treaty, and McCain tried to kill the agreement by offering an amendment that would force the United States and Russia to renegotiate the pact. The Senate rejected his amendment on Saturday. Which probably irritated the hell out of him. On Monday, Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser for President George H.W. Bush and who supports START ratification, accused McCain of assailing the treaty because of his anger over the repeal of DADT: “To play politics with what is in the fundamental national interest is pretty scary stuff.” I look forward to McCain yelling at Scowcroft to get off his lawn.