That headline is Justin Amash’s joke, not mine, but it’s not much of an exaggeration. This is, essentially, the Democratic response: ObamaCare was duly passed, it was an issue in a presidential campaign that the GOP lost, end of story — whether or not there are 51 or even 60 votes in the Senate to defund this thing. He actually used the phrase “elections have consequences,” which must be the first time a member of the *minority* party has ever tossed that into a debate. Like Ramesh Ponnuru says, weren’t Ted Cruz and Mike Lee elected too?
Watching this was the first time I felt that he might be serious about retiring in 2016. The reaction to it on Twitter among righties, even those who have criticized Cruz for his “defund” strategy, was more uniformly, stridently negative than the response to any other display of maverick-iness in recent memory. And understandably so: There’s no reason for McCain to go out and carry Obama’s and Reid’s water on this except his own antipathy to Cruz, Paul, and the other “wacko birds.” It’s not merely the betrayal, it’s the pettiness of it. More so than even Mitch McConnell or Boehner, I think he’s become public enemy number one among Republicans for tea partiers. He’ll have a ferocious primary challenge in three years, and if he intends to defeat it, at some point he’ll have to start making nice with the Cruz/Paul contingent. I think he’d rather quit and enjoy the rest of his term sticking thumbs in their eyes.
“Elections have consequences” was only half the speech, though. The other half has Maverick in high dudgeon over Cruz wondering yesterday whether the opponents of his “defund” strategy would have also, ahem, stood up to Hitler. Given how many interventionists there are on the other side of him on this issue, I’m … reasonably sure that most would have. It’s a lame Godwinian flourish, although RINO-haters no doubt will consider the comparison insulting to Neville Chamberlain, if anything. But seriously: After more than 21 hours of Cruz talking about ObamaCare, the key part of his speech that McCain feels obliged to put front and center with America watching is … a throwaway line about Nazi appeasers? This is what Maverick decided he needed to do with his precious moments on the floor and his credibility as a so-called “reasonable Republican”? Retirement can’t come too soon.