I don’t think he’s quite getting it.
It’s not that McCain disagreed with Rand Paul; it’s the way he and Graham went about it. Republicans finally scored a major, compelling, epic GOP PR victory that got millions to tune in while they pointed out the excesses of the Obama administration, and McCain and Graham just had to immediately and rather nastily rain on everybody’s parade. Being intellectually honest with himself isn’t the problem here — it’s that it came in the form of a tactless political buzzkill. Says Chris Stirewalt:
Paul got the president to rein in his attorney general’s claim of executive authority to kill American citizens on American soil without trial. At a moment when Americans, especially liberals and young voters, are growing increasingly uneasy with Obama’s drone wars and kill lists, Paul forced Obama to yield.
The next day, though, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham arrived, like parents who discovered a raucous party had been going on while they were away and scolded Paul. McCain and Graham had been at dinner with the drone warrior president while Paul was filibustering and they did not at all like what he had been up to.
Rather than do what other moderates and hawks had done and let Paul have his moment whilst gently reminding their constituents that killing bad guys was very important, McCain and Graham mocked and derided Paul and his supporters.