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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Commentary on Senator John McCain and his thirty-plus years in Congress.

Link: Senator John McCain claims that Senator Rand Paul has no influence.

In 2008, Arizona Senator John McCain won the Republican nomination for President.  Although I can't recall his GOP opposition, I do remember that I didn't support McCain until after the Republican Convention. I was very unfamiliar with McCain's Democratic opponent, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, but I did a bit of research, and ended up quite happy with McCain as a candidate.  First in foremost, McCain is a veteran of the Vietnam War, and survived over five years of torture and starvation in a North Vietnamese prison camp.  During his incarceration, his behavior was an honor to us all, as he refused to cooperate with the enemy, and dedicated himself to helping others in the prison camp.  Very few people can understand the suffering that McCain endured, during which McCain stayed steadfast and loyal to his country.  Beginning in 1982, McCain served two terms in the House of Representatives, before being elected to the Senate.  McCain continues to hold that Arizona Senate seat to this day.  Until the 2008 election, I believed that politically, McCain leaned to the right.  I may have been correct at the time, but from my view, Senator John McCain of 2017 is not a conservative.  In fact, it seems that the longer McCain stays in Congress, the less conservative he becomes.

I wouldn't go so far as to describe McCain as progressive, or even liberal.  I see John McCain as a moderate.  He is a strong advocate for Veterans and the military, but at the same time he has a sweet spot for big government and a host of entitlement programs.  As far as the environment goes, McCain is in line with many Democrats in Congress.  The folks in Arizona are very happy with the job McCain had done, as he has yet to be seriously challenged in either a Primary or General Election.  Senator McCain is eighty years old, and appears to have no interest in resigning.  In reality, McCain should never have run for re-election, at least not after two or three terms.  The Founding Fathers never intended for our Congress to become an employment agency; I have no doubt they would be horrified at the number of Congressmen and women who have been in office for more than three decades.  Senator McCain is a very intelligent man, but is he also so vain that he believes no one else can do his job?  But the folks in Arizona keep returning him to DC, which is their sovereign right.

Over the last decade, I've been disappointed by John McCain more times than I can recall.  It seems as if he's been co-opted by the unnamed group of Republican Congressmen whose first priority is re-election, and second priority is "business as usual".  Last week I read that John McCain, a strong supporter of the recent Health Care Bill that Paul Ryan cobbled together, does not approve of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's efforts to repeal Obamacare in its entirety, and replace it with something that utilizes the private sector, as opposed to expanding entitlements.  When McCain was asked about Rand Paul's efforts, he responded, "I don't pay any attention, frankly, because he (Rand Paul) doesn't have any real influence in the Senate."  I'm beginning to understand exactly how John McCain views the Senate and its functions.  He, being one of the crusty old guard, one of the old Galapagos Turtles of the Senate, won't consider the efforts of anyone whose nuts don't hang down to their knees just yet (he and Diane Feinstein work just fine together).  Crudeness aside, I have no doubt that McCain didn't bother to read or even examine Rand Paul's Health Care Plan.  How does he manage to convince the voters of Arizona that he has their best interests at heart, when he won't even consider a fellow Republican's efforts?  Not to mention Senator Rand Paul just happens to be a physician.

When I was younger, I truly admired John McCain.  He seemed genuinely focused on the best interests of everyday folks, and went to battle for conservative issues.  I also recall when he began to change.  McCain has always been concerned about his image and reputation amongst his peers.  Although its not fair to say that McCain was ever a true conservative, he usually voted as one.   It was sometime in the late 1980s that I noticed McCain no longer voting with the conservative bloc.  Since that time I think its safe to say that John McCain has been one of the true moderate voices in the Senate.  I don't think McCain considers himself a conservative or a liberal, but because he runs as a Republican, he feels the need to occasionally vote with the Democrats, especially on high profile issues.  At this stage, what else does McCain have to work towards beyond his legacy?  No doubt McCain sees Rand Paul as a representative of the fringe element of the GOP, the same group that celebrated his selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008.  He will not support a bill, regardless of its contents, unless it has some level of bipartisan support.

I guess you could say that I'm concerned about Senator McCain's legacy as well.  I hope he chooses to retire after this term, otherwise Arizona will have an eighty-six year old man running for the Senate, and in all likelihood, winning.  I believe John McCain is a good man.  He allegedly has a temper, and expects a certain amount of deference given his lengthy years of service.  If true, he's not the only Congressperson with a short fuse, and I support showing extra consideration to the political veterans of Congress.  On the other hand, I'm disgusted when a powerful Senator rudely dismisses the efforts of a less-established member of Congress, based upon his/her lack of influence.  Interestingly enough, the critical issues that our nation faces in 2017 have continually intensified under Senator McCain's watch.  Although entitlement abuse already existed when McCain was first elected, he was a sitting member of Congress when government waste and largesse became the monster that now seems impossible to control.  In 1982, McCain was elected to the House of Representatives representing the First District in Arizona, and in 1987, he successfully ran for the Senate, replacing conservative hero Barry Goldwater.  Federal spending became a runaway train during the time that John McCain represented the good people of Arizona in Congress. 

I am grateful to Senator John McCain for the tremendous sacrifices he has made for our country, and I thank him for his personal courage and his dedication to government service.  I have a list of complaints to hand to Congress that can't be blamed exclusively on any one member, and certainly not McCain.  He is not to blame for Congress becoming a lifetime gig, although McCain has been a fixture on Capitol Hill for thirty-five years.  Its a shame that he didn't retire years ago, and given another citizen a chance to participate, because the nation can survive without John McCain in Congress.  Another statistic that gives me a rash is the number of millionaires on Capitol Hill.  The average Senator is worth $2.8 million and the average Representative $843,507.  I can't blame this reality on McCain either, but he is a member of the club, no doubt.  Imagine for just a moment, if the Senate and House of Representatives existed as originally intended by the Founding Fathers, where political power was shared by farmers, lawyers, soldiers, carpenters, home builders, teachers, etc., who would serve for two terms at most, then return to regular life.  We have no one to blame but ourselves that the situation has evolved in this manner, because we elected and continue to elect people who believe that the job is a lifetime position, if they can find the right amount of financial support for campaigning.  I am convinced that the great majority of members of Congress begin campaigning for re-election the day after getting elected. Because John McCain entered politics with so much national goodwill, he could have set a powerful example, and challenged his peers to do the same.  The key is to leave DC before it starts to feel like home.

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