The late Sen. John McCain’s voice still reverberates through the current administration and its troubles. Cindy McCain said in an interview with CNN that she thought that John McCain would be “disgusted with some of the stuff that has gone on.” She said he’d be railing against it.
Then she said something more interesting, something that may shed light on the solidity of the Republican red line. She thought Sen. McCain brought a lot of “cover” for other members. When he would do it, “they could get behind him kind of thing.” She said that she is not seeing a real “rudder” in the Senate “in all this.”
Everything is about reelection, which she acknowledged as important. But she noted that at some point one has to do what one was elected to do: represent the country and the people who elected you. She said he would be “terribly upset” about this whole thing.
The point about “cover” is deep. If there is one hallmark to Trump’s ideology, it is that unanimity among his allies, the “loyalty” thing, is always the first concern. Small breaches in policy may arise, but political loyalty is a must. Time after time we have seen a shift in someone retiring, a sudden freedom to criticize Trump. It never amounts to anything because that person is written off as a “never Trumper” within moments after the announcement.
Now we find ourselves at a point where Republicans like Cindy McCain cannot find that Republican, the one that can shield others with his stature. The most natural contenders, someone like McConnell, Graham, and Cornyn, the same people that blasted Trump prior to taking office, now use their stature to enforce the line.
The other massive change is that it only takes one or two tweets to devastate a Republicans’ career, social media makes change happen lightning-fast. Prior to this administration it would be inconceivable to imagine a president dishing out personal insults and anger at any one individual, especially mild criticism. With Trump we can’t imagine it any other way. Each perceived slight reverberates deeply within an entire party that has itself adopted the loyalty test.
It isn’t surprising she came out so strongly. We have had other presidents who used their connections to get around the Vietnam war. We have never had one who had the audacity to criticize a POW for getting shot down. Trump also continues to criticize McCain even after his passing, something rather jaw-dropping for … well, just about anyone, never mind the president. It’s tough to expect any family to get over that kind of abuse.
We have spent most of the Trump administration awaiting that one day when something happens that compels many or all Republicans to suddenly “awaken” to the devastation being caused. It is best to acknowledge that the rudder required doesn’t exist. Shocking revelations result in … criticism of the procedure.
I have written extensively about that “crime on paper,” some sort of financial tie, through taxes or bank records, something almost irrefutable as being the necessary factor. It is still possible. But the question about that rudder seems unanswerable at this point. Mitt Romney is already out. He may as well be a Democrat in most Republicans’ eyes. So, too, are the other two or three we can even consider, Collins, Murkowski, that type. A preemptive “DINO” label has already been wrapped around their necks.
It is almost surely coming down to the election. I think that is likely best for the overall future of the country. We must still have the hearings, get the evidence out there and a vote in the Senate. The rule of law requires it. But without a defeat in the polls, a public rudder, the legitimacy of future administrations is weakened. It would be different if a Republican segment existed to validate the findings. The cover John McCain provided just isn’t out there anymore.
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