Washington DC is a place for grand ambition, a place that no one gets without having something of a killer instinct. Usually it’s disguised a little better than in this WOWO interview with Kelli Ward, the woman who challenged John McCain in the 2016 primary, picked up here by CNN. Ward, a physician by trade, tells the Indiana station that the prospects for McCain’s health are “low,” and that he should get out of the way immediately in order to open up the seat for … Kelli Ward:
“I hope that Senator McCain is going to look long and hard at this, that his family and his advisers are going to look at this, and they’re going to advise him to step away as quickly as possible,” she said on Indiana radio WOWO 1190 AM. “So that the business of the country and the business of Arizona being represented at the federal level can move forward.” …
“I would never presume to say what someone’s prognosis is without having exams,” she said. “As a Christian, I know there can always be miracles. But the likelihood that John McCain is going to come back to the Senate and be at full force for the people of our state and the people of the United States is low. That likelihood is low. So in our state, we don’t have a quick special election or anything if someone retires or resigns or steps away from their position.”
In one sentence, Ward says she’d never offer a prognosis without doing an exam. Two sentences later, Ward does exactly that, a trick she tried on occasion during her primary fight, too. She may not be incorrect, and in fact might be likely to be proven correct, but Doctor Ward is still offering prognoses without any access to the patient’s information.
Besides, what’s the rush? Ward emphasizes that the issue is pressing because of the head count in the Senate, which Ward manages to botch. “You probably realize,” Ward tells the radio host, “that with John McCain out of commission, we don’t have 51 votes on the Republican side.” Actually, as her home-state newspaper Arizona Republic pointed out, we do have 51 votes without McCain, because there are 52 Republicans in the Senate. As Casey Stengel once said, “You can look it up.” Assuming that the entire Republican caucus votes together, McCain’s temporary absence would not be a problem. The issue is that the caucus can’t even pull together 50 votes for ObamaCare repeal, but McConnell can’t pull together 49 either, so again, McCain’s absence isn’t as pressing, at least at the moment.
The reason Ward wants to treat this as an emergency is rather transparent:
She added that if McCain steps down she hopes Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey considers appointing her to his seat until an election takes place in 2018 to decide who would fill it for the remainder of his term.
“Well, you know, I certainly hope so,” she said. “Because I have a proven track record of years in the state senate of being extremely effective and of listening to the voice of the people that I represent.”
Ahem. If Doug Ducey had any inclination to fill a hypothetically open Senate seat by appointing Ward, the naked ambition in this attempt to shove McCain in a ditch just a couple of days after announcing his cancer diagnosis would chill it at least a little. It doesn’t help that Ward goes after Jeff Flake in the same interview, and then suggests that Ducey could do a solid for Flake by letting her take the other Senate seat. “I am beating the pants off of Jeff Flake already,” Ward tells WOWO, and that “some people told me” that Flake should get Ducey to appoint Ward just to “take the pressure off of him.”
Flake’s not rushing to take Ward up on that offer, as he tells CNN:
“John McCain is a fighter and an American hero. I fully expect to see him back in the senate soon. I’m dumbstruck by Kelli Ward’s comments.”
Regardless of how one views John McCain’s policy positions and votes, the people of Arizona elected him to this term in office, and he should be given more than 48 hours to absorb the impact of his diagnosis before deciding on whether to resign. Instead, Ward wants to push him out in order to get the seat she couldn’t win in the election. My guess is that McCain will be more determined than ever not to give Ward that opportunity, and that Flake will have a clip to share with Arizona voters repeatedly between now and the 2018 primary.