John McCain: Is the combative ‘maverick’ the hero we need?
As a progressive in America with a decent memory and solid understanding of political discourse, it is easy to hate on Senator John McCain (R-AZ).
From battling Barack Obama — as both an opponent in the 2008 presidential race as well as a stonewalling member of Congress throughout Obama’s two terms in office — and a history of combative right-wing stances on a number of social, economic and political issues, McCain has made a lot of ideological enemies on the “left” throughout his tenure as a politician.
But with the advent of Trump’s America, McCain is becoming a bit of a sight for sore eyes.
“Profound concern” surrounding the president’s agenda
Since the inauguration last month, John McCain has famously defied and dismissed Trump on a number of initiatives — most famously being the new president’s disastrous implementation of his “Muslim ban” campaign promise, whereby he called Trump’s executive order a “self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.” He also has made similarly-strong statements against the new president’s ties to Russia.
Continuing this trend, yesterday at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, the Republican Senator seemed to spare no words or feelings when referencing the freshman administration’s impact on the world.
“My friends: In the four decades I have attended this conference, I cannot recall a year where its purpose was more necessary or more important.”
The Senator asked of the crowd what they thought leaders from the past and founders of the conference would say about the world we live in today as affected by the new president’s actions and rhetoric.
“They would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood, and race, and sectarianism. They would be alarmed by the hardening resentment we see toward immigrants, and refugees, and minority groups, especially Muslims. They would be alarmed by the growing inability, and even unwillingness, to separate truth from lies. They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent.”
McCain seemed to wish to allay the fears of a world still shocked by the U.S. election by reassuring the audience that America is still a nation of inclusive values.
“I know there is profound concern across Europe and the world that America is laying down the mantle of global leadership. I can only speak for myself, but I do not believe that is the message you will hear from all of the American leaders who cared enough to travel here to Munich this weekend. We must take our own side in this fight. We must be vigilant. We must persevere. And through it all, we must never, never cease to believe in the moral superiority of our own values — through it all, so long as people of goodwill and courage refuse to lose faith in the west, it will endure.”
An “administration in disarray”
Despite the President’s recent press conference remarks about his White House being a “finely tuned machine,” McCain held nothing back in vocalizing the broader, more facts-based perception; insisting that the resignation of Michael Flynn proved that Trump’s administration was in “disarray”.
“I think that the Flynn issue obviously is something that shows that in many respects this administration is in disarray and they’ve got a lot of work to do.”
“The president I think makes statements [and] on other occasions contradicts himself,” he continued. “So we’ve learned to watch what the president does as opposed to what he says.”
Enemy of my enemy…
As early as this morning, McCain again fired back against Trump’s tweet that the media is the “enemy of the American people.”
In an interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, the Senator noted quite plainly that Trump’s words are “how dictators get started.”
“In other words, a consolidation of power,” McCain said. “When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.”
While McCain may publicly be taking the higher road by asserting that — despite the president’s numerous failings — there is still a silver lining to be found, it is clear that the 80-year old Arizona Senator holds no special place in his heart for the newly-inaugurated, self-empowered, billionaire president.
With McCain’s deep political ties and decades’ worth of legislative and foreign policy experience, the “maverick” himself may still prove invaluable to the resistance against Trump’s agenda.