From John Heilemann at New York Magazine:

Is McCain attacking Obama and toeing the GOP line out of principle? Or for revenge against the man who beat him?

The Senate debate over health-care reform had just begun when John McCain took to the well of the upper chamber and offered his party’s first proposed amendment: to strip the Democratic bill of its proposed $487 billion in Medicare reductions. “All of these are cuts in the obligations that we have assumed and are the rightful benefits that people have earned,” McCain intoned. “I will eagerly look forward to hearing from the authors of this legislation as to how they can possibly achieve half a trillion dollars in cuts without impacting existing Medicare programs negatively and eventually lead[ing] to rationing of health care in this country.”

For anyone who followed the 2008 presidential campaign in any detail, the McCain amendment surely caused a double take so severe that it induced a case of whiplash. A little more than a year ago, please recall, the Republican nominee was pushing a health-care plan that revolved around giving tax credits to voters to help them buy insurance, all the while pledging that the scheme would be budget-neutral. And just how did he propose to pull that off? Glad you asked. By offsetting the cost of the tax credits with $1.3 trillion in cuts over ten years to—wait for it—Medicare and Medicaid.

And now, kids, we finally know why he’s called Captain Underpants!

Heaven knows that in politics, consistency is the hobgoblin of almost no one. Yet in terms of absurdity and hypocrisy, McCain’s gambit was pretty far off the charts. And, more to the point, in its animating spirit and ultimate objective (to deep-six the health-care bill), the move was a perfect reflection of the Arizona senator’s behavior in 2009. In a year when the oppositionalism of Republicans toward the agenda of the new Democratic president has been nearly total, no elected official has embodied that posture more completely than McCain.


As a matter of political character, McCain’s stance has been revealing in itself. But what interests me more is what his performance—and the dynamics underlying it—says about the state of the Republican Party in the Obama era. About how, faced with a moment when what was clearly called for was reassessment and reinvention, the GOP has plunged headlong into a strategy of nihilism.


That McCain would wind up as a consistent thorn in Obama’s side didn’t seem at all inevitable in the wake of the contest between them. Less than two weeks after Election Day, the victor and the vanquished sat down together in Chicago to talk about how they might work together in the months ahead. A sunny joint statement was released.


No sensible person, having observed the harshness with which McCain conducted his campaign or the scorn he betrayed for his youthful rival, took such statements at face value. Yet even among Obama’s advisers, there was hope that on a discreet range of issues—national security, financial reform, immigration, climate change—McCain might prove a modest ally.


[S]ightings of the old McCain have been few and far between. On display instead has been a McCain of relentless recalcitrance, vitriol, and unwavering party loyalty. A McCain who denounced Obama’s stimulus program as “generational theft”—and then proposed an alternative composed of almost nothing but tax cuts. A McCain who scolded Obama to his face for being “leisurely” in his Afghanistan decision—then trashed Obama’s target date for withdrawal, despite having accepted a similar “time horizon” when it came to the Iraq surge. Who declined to repudiate conservative nonsense about health-care reform leading to “death panels”—then raised that specter again last month on the Senate floor. Who, despite years of defying the GOP’s know-nothingism on global warming, has refused to join his pals Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham in working on a bi-partisan climate bill—calling their efforts “horrendous.” Who has been praised by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for having been “a fabulous team player.”

One explanation for all this is psychic: that McCain, a mercurial figure at the best of times, is acting out his embitterment over his loss on the public stage. “He’s just angry,” says a longtime counselor of the senator’s.


McCain, of course, suffered a similarly stinging defeat in 2000 at the hands of George W. Bush. Back then, McCain returned to the Senate and behaved almost like a liberal, going on the attack against Bush and other Republicans.


But McCain also has other, more pedestrian but no less pertinent reasons for acting the way that he has. Back home in Arizona, for the first time in years, McCain is facing the prospect of a serious primary challenge from archconservative former congressman J. D. Hayworth. How serious? According to a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted last month, McCain holds a narrow lead over Hayworth, 45 to 43 percent, in a hypothetical matchup.


Certainly among the most salient and least predicted features of Obama’s first year in office has been that, John McCain notwithstanding, the faces and the voices of Republican opposition have not been those of elected officials. Instead, to a very large degree, the party’s image has been defined by three individuals: Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin. No doubt these figures have energized the GOP’s base in a way that few could have imagined. But equally clear is that they’ve done zilch to broaden the party’s appeal or help it escape the demographic ditch—the party of the old, the white, the male, and the southern—into which it’s fallen.

Among the leaders of mainstream Republicanism, no one would seem to have been better suited to challenge the influence of the party’s extreme elements than McCain. But when Cheney slams Obama as a ditherer for taking his time before sending tens of thousands of soldiers into harm’s way, McCain sagely nods his head. When Palin invokes death panels, McCain joins in the fun—and then praises the work of delusional fantasy that is her memoir. As for Limbaugh, the man who once extended his “apologies to Bozo, Chuckles, and Krusty” after calling the talk-radio gasbag a clown now declares, “Mr. Limbaugh is a voice of a significant portion of our conservative movement in America … He’s part of the political landscape, and he plays a role.”

McCain’s accommodationism of the GOP’s lunatic fringe is the clearest evidence that chief among the factors motivating him this year has been fear: fear that the passions now raging on the right might well consume him.


Filed under 2008 election, Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Chimpy, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, humor, Iraq War, Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham, Medicaid, Mitch McConnell, movies, parody, politics, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Senate, snark, Wordpress Political Blogs

20 responses to “Maver-ick-ick-ick

  1. Thank God this guy does not currently reside in the White House.

    • hello ignacio!

      welcome to the raisin! 😀

      i shudder to think this guy (and the moron he chose to run with him) got as close to the white house as they did. i can’t even imagine how much worse things would be right now if he was sitting in the oval.

  2. Foreigner

    Talk about Dodging a fatal bullet!!!

  3. Friend of the court

    that flying underpants cover is as scary as the wicked which’s monkeys.

  4. writechic

    I got the Captain Underpants comparison right out of the gate. It’s the color, head shape, and the way McCain’s left cheek seconds as a neck.

    Nice to see it come to life with you, Nonnie. And the teeny Rush Limbaugh is too precious. 😉

  5. “Boxers or briefs?” “Depends.”


  6. Piss isn’t the only thing Cap’n Underpants puts in his panties; and this little lunatic needs to be relieved of his excretory responsibilities as soon as possible.

    Butt; Heilemann is soft-peddling the fate of the Repugs; they didn’t “fall” into no stinking demographic ditch, they’re trapped in a trench of their own devising, one they’ve been digging for forty years.
    That’s why they all have ulcerative gingivitis, i.e., “Trench Mouth,” and that’s why they’re all rotting back to oblivion down there in the very muck they spew.

    Gee; I feel better now! Thanks, Nonnie! 😎

    • i agree, mh. but i have to say that the description you offered is making my queasy stomach even more queasy. i’ll have to read it again in a couple of days.

  7. ThompsonBB

    I’m Tom and I cannot, for the life of me, remember how I found you guys. I think it was from a PC Mag, but then it might not…..

    Although UK born and bred (N. Yorkshire Dales), I enjoy following the US politics and comparing the similarities with our UK mob of politicians.

    My political views and tendencies are mostly sceptical tending to unclassifiable. Some things I’m conservative about, other things, I agree with ‘The Left’. The rest, I’m either sorta Centrist’ about, or I disagree with all of ’em… Whatever way I see it, I treat politicians with the deepest distrust, until they prove otherwise I’m new.

  8. sertReveGrons


    I’m new to the forum and just saying hello.