NATO weighing whether to rename headquarters after McCain

This would be among the most fitting tributes imaginable, even more so than renaming the Russell Building after him. McCain will be remembered mainly as a hawk and an internationalist, I think, a man who believed that the west generally and the U.S. specifically had a duty to side with smaller countries against the illiberal bullies in their neighborhoods. His domestic work as a senator is an afterthought relative to that.

So why not associate him for posterity with the west’s greatest multinational anti-Russian alliance?

If nothing else, he’ll get a huge kick in the Great Beyond from the idea of Trump’s annual visit to Brussels being a little more frowny than usual when he’s forced to stride through the doors of the McCain Building.

NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu told CNN that the request had been received by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and “will be considered carefully.”…

In his letter requesting the move, Conservative UK MP Tom Tugendhat wrote “very few people embodied the values that NATO is built on in the way Sen. John McCain III did.”

“There can be no more fitting tribute to his career and the values that Sen. McCain espoused — but also no better message for NATO to send at this time of global tension — than to name its new headquarters building after the American statesman,” he added.

Why a British MP is taking the lead on this instead of a U.S. senator, lord only knows. Is Grahamnesty afraid doing so would put him on the wrong side of his friend, the president?

Not much surprises me anymore in politics but I’m legitimately surprised that Schumer’s idea of renaming the Russell Building after McCain seems to have stalled. The idea that the Republican base will revolt if Congress dares to slap Maverick’s name on some government building is ridiculous. From Time magazine:

Senate Republicans note that when Teddy Kennedy died in 2009, his former colleagues didn’t rename property for the liberal lion of the Senate. Instead, they put up a portrait of him and his brothers in the Caucus Room and renamed it for the Kennedy brothers. “Are you telling me that John McCain matters more to Democrats than the Kennedys?” a Senate GOP aide said. “This is Chuck Schumer trying to make us hug John McCain, knowing damned well that it will hurt us with our base back home.”

Others in the GOP caucus found different reasons to oppose the move. Sen. Chuck Grassley said he favors a memorial for McCain but added: “I’m not sure that I would make a decision on a specific building at this point.” Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said lawmakers should not rush with a proposal just yet. Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana suggested there were better ways to honor McCain than renaming the Russell building. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama noted that Sen. Richard Russell, of Georgia, was a fellow Southerner who was “well-respected” and “an icon.” (It’s worth remembering Russell’s legacy today is defined by his support of racial segregation and opposition to civil rights protections.) Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma wondered if Schumer had an “ulterior motive.”

In an age when eight to 10 bombshell-style news stories seem to drop every day, renaming an office building after Maverick wouldn’t register in the Republican consciousness for more than 10 minutes. Republican voters regard him as a “hero” by a margin of two to one, in fact. So do Democrats, by a margin of nearly 10 to one(!). That may explain why the idea of renaming something after McCain is more palatable to the country than renaming it after Ted Kennedy is/was: Teddy was polarizing in a way McCain isn’t. Even Trump, who learned a lesson this week about how much antipathy towards McCain will be tolerated, wouldn’t dare bother objecting to Senate action on McCain’s behalf. In fact…

McCain’s stature is destined to only grow in time as some hard feelings towards him on the right inevitably ease. If McConnell and the Senate GOP really are worried about a backlash if they honored him, here’s an easy way to put their minds at ease: Tack the name-change bill onto a larger bill appropriating funding for a border wall. Even McCain-haters will shrug off an official tribute to him if it comes paired with a victory on the issue on which he vexed them most.

And listen: The Russell Building will be renamed eventually. Richard Shelby can coo all he wants about Russell being a “well respected man from the South” but the fact remains that he was a racist and segregationist who filibustered anti-lynching bills. If Russell were an American icon on the scale of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, his racial sins might be compartmentalized and set aside. He isn’t, so they won’t be. If Republicans don’t change the name of the building now, a Democratic Congress eventually will. In time it’ll probably end up being called the Kennedy-McCain Building, at least until #MeToo forces Teddy’s name to be removed.

Here’s Graham relaying a nice call he got from Trump after his speech in the Senate yesterday remembering McCain fondly.