Heh. I’m sure she’d say if asked that she had no one in particular in mind when making these comments, that it was a general statement about the general state of affairs in the country and Washington’s general response to them.

But one could, if one chose, perhaps detect a more particularized critique in certain bits and pieces. “I think John provided a lot of cover for other members,” she sniffs at one point, “and when he would [complain about something], then they could get behind him… And I’m not seeing that, a real rudder in the Senate right now.” Hmm.

Later: “I understand what it means to get reelected. But at some point, you have to do what you were elected to do, and that is represent the country, as well as your local people,” she said. Hmm hmm.

I don’t know. Are there any Republican senators campaigning for reelection right now who used to reliably follow McCain’s lead, to the point of being seen as the heir to McCain’s legacy in the Senate, who now spend most of their waking hours throwing every feeble pro-Trump spin on impeachment they can think of at the wall to see what sticks?

Oh, meanwhile:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) doubled down on his defense of President Trump amid the ongoing impeachment inquiry, arguing there’s “nothing there” in the call between Trump and Ukrainian leaders to suggest the president did anything wrong.

“You make your mind up about the phone call. I made my mind up. There’s nothing there,” Graham said in an interview Saturday with KCCI, a Des Moines CBS affiliate.

“I’m trying to let the House know, ‘You’re dividing America for no good reason.’ We got a lot of things we should be doing, like lowering drug costs and getting a trade deal with Canada and Mexico,” he added.

What would have galled Maverick, Cindy McCain notes in the clip below, wasn’t just the quid pro quo but rather that it involved vital military aid that Ukraine desperately needed to fend off the Russians. If you’re a dove like Rand Paul who thinks we shouldn’t take sides in international disputes for the most part, that makes the Ukraine matter relatively easy to defend. But if you’re a hawk, especially an ardent hawk like McCain was, the idea of Trump jeopardizing the Ukraine national defense effort in order to squeeze them for information on the Bidens should be infuriating, an outrageous betrayal of a country looking for help from the United States against a menacing regional power.

Good thing we don’t have any McCain-style Republican superhawks left in the Senate anymore who care about stuff like that.

I don’t begrudge Cindy a little hagiography on behalf of her late husband but I think she’s overstating the extent to which Maverick would have been “railing” against Trump’s conduct on the Ukraine matter. He would have criticized it, no doubt; I think there’s a *chance* he would have voted for removal, as he proved once before that he wasn’t afraid to defy Trump on a big vote. But McCain knew that it wasn’t in his electoral interest to complain loudly about the president and for the most part he didn’t. I don’t recall him ever going off over Trump’s comments about McCain’s time as a POW, for instance. My gut is that he would have ultimately landed in the “bad but not impeachable” category of GOP Ukraine apologetics, although with two caveats. One: He probably would have been loud in critiquing Trump in this case, indignant at how anti-Russia military aid was ransomed and assured that his ultimate vote against removal would make his constituents more willing to see him rant against POTUS. And two, needless to say: If he knew that he was in his final term in the Senate, the chances of him voting to remove would have risen substantially. A McCain who was planning to run again in 2022 would have looked for reasons to acquit. A McCain who wasn’t planning it wouldn’t have looked nearly as hard.

One thing is beyond question, though. Certain McCain-like Republican satellites in the Senate who have been outspoken in Trump’s defense on impeachment would have been waaaaaaay more equivocal on the subject with McCain around to provide his own center of political gravity. With Maverick gone, those senators ended up drifting into Planet Trump’s orbit.