Good lord. What got into Maverick here? Has he not accepted yet that reacting to Trump’s inane tweet-farts is 85 percent of American politics now?
Maybe CNN just caught him on a bad day, but I think this could be eight years of presidential frustration bubbling up. Consider McCain’s predicament. He was a war hero with more than 20 years of service in the Senate when he won his party’s nomination in 2008, and was even with Obama in many polls until the financial crisis struck that fall. He ended up being stomped on Election Day by an ivory-tower amateur so far removed from military culture that he thought “corpsman” was pronounced “corpse-man” until someone finally corrected him. He spent two terms suffering in the Senate as Obama implemented a foreign policy that was … pretty interventionist, actually, but nowhere near as interventionist as McCain would have liked, especially when it comes to arming the so-called “moderate” rebels in Syria. Finally, finally, after eight long years, Obama is replaced in the White House by a Republican. And who is it? It’s a guy who missed Vietnam due to bone spurs but endured a “personal Vietnam” dodging STDs while bed-hopping, whose favorite world leader seems to be Vladimir Putin, who’s said more isolationist things about, e.g., NATO than Barack Obama ever has, and who, oh right, mocked McCain’s heroism in enduring torture by the VC while paying no political price for doing so. McCain spent most of his seventies learning to live with Obama and now he may end up spending most of his eighties learning to live with Trump. No wonder he’s cranky.
Whatever you think of McCain, though — pro-amnesty, hyper-aggressive abroad — you may learn to appreciate him over the next few years if you’re a Trump skeptic. Maverick has never been freer politically to indulge his maverick streak than he is right now. He’s just been reelected, he’s probably in his final term, and he’s built up a thick skin after being bashed by grassroots conservatives for so many years. If Trump nominates someone for the cabinet who’s obviously unqualified or tries to push a giant infrastructure boondoggle through the Senate, McCain’s free to say no and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Judging from his tone here, he’s fully prepared to do so.