AZ GOP censures McCain for being "too liberal"

I suppose this was inevitable, really. While it happened on the local level and not on the floor of the upper chamber, John McCain has been censured by his own party for being too liberal.

The Arizona Republican Party formally censured Sen. John McCain on Saturday, citing a voting record they say is insufficiently conservative.

The resolution to censure McCain was approved by a voice-vote during a meeting of state committee members in Tempe, state party spokesman Tim Sifert said. It needed signatures from at least 20 percent of state committee members to reach the floor for debate.

Sifert said no further action was expected.

Obviously this has no real impact on McCain and is more of a ceremonial statement by the local party heads than anything else. McCain’s office declined to even respond to requests for comment, though former Senator Jon Kyl called the move “wacky.” (Echos of “whacko bird” there, eh?)

Their complaints are the same ones we regularly hear; willing to work on “immigration reform” (read: amnesty) and being a bit too cozy with the idea of Obamacare as settled law, even if it requires modifications. Does this mean anything at all? A bit of scoffing drips from the pen of Joe Gandelman.

THE IMMEDIATE MEANING: McCain has been taken to task, as if that will have any impact whatsoever on what he says or does.

THE LONGTERM IMPACT: It continues to feed the ongoing image of the Republican Party as a party that’s intolerant to those who don’t echo the sound bites of talk radio hosts, Fox News and conservative media writers. It’s a big: NONCONSERVATIVES ARE NOT WELCOME sign hung on the GOP’s tent (which increasingly resembles a pup tent).

I’m not going to say I agree with all of that. Frankly, I don’t know if McCain will even notice, and it’s hard to imagine him suddenly standing up, rubbing his eyes and saying, “Gee… I guess I’d better straighten up and fly Right from now on.” McCain gives us plenty of reasons to complain, including the ones I listed above. But he’s also – if nothing else – extremely consistent in his ability to apparently not give a hoot what people are saying. As one liberal wag put it, Arizona has been a hotbed of crazy for a long time and McCain has yelled at that wing of the party to get off his damn lawn at least since he kicked off that torrid bromance with Joe Lieberman in the 90′s. It seems inevitable that they would one day bite back.

The reason this winds up being a bit more of a non-story is that McCain really has virtually nothing to worry about, absent falling down outside his house and breaking a hip. He’s not up for election until 2016, and he’s hinted several times that he may be retiring anyway. (Not terribly surprising since he’ll turn 80 that year.) Of course even if he does run again, as he recently implied, is this censure going to affect anything? In his last run in 2010 he cruised to a 58 – 34 victory with more than a million votes in a mid-term contest. Local GOP and independent voters don’t seem to be staying away in droves, so McCain doesn’t seem likely to lose any sleep over this.