I have to be honest here.
I’ve never liked John McCain. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate his service to the country and admire his courage in Vietnam because I do. As a political leader, however, I’m not a fan.
My initial impression of him was formed many years ago when I interned in the congressional office of Representative Eldon Rudd of Arizona. At the time, McCain was also a congressman.
I distinctly recall one day when several of Rudd’s staffers stood around the closed circuit TV monitor that fed proceedings on the House floor into our office. These staffers seemed mesmerized by what they were watching.
Afterwards, as they each walked back to their desks, I stopped one of them and asked who they’d been watching on the television.
“It was John McCain,” he told me adding, “Just because you’re a POW doesn’t mean you should be a congressman.”
“Wow!” I thought, “That was cold.”
Over the years, however, as I saw McCain in action, I began to understand where this Hill staffer was coming from.
Years later, I worked on the staff of the Bush presidential campaign in 2000. One of my jobs on the campaign was to travel to South Carolina to serve as Volunteer Coordinator in the primary against . . . you guessed it . . . John McCain.
We won that primary, and I know that for years thereafter McCain expressed bitterness over the “dirty tricks” he claims occurred at the hands of Bush operatives in that state. I admit I don’t know anything about any of those claims one way or another even though I was there. Part of the reason I know nothing is that I was too busy dealing with the untoward activities of some people helping the McCain campaign.
One of my jobs involved helping send people out to put up large Bush for President wooden signs along roads throughout the state. It was an extremely tough job since part of the job involved figuring out which signs had been torn down or removed by the McCain people the night before and then replacing them.
I’ll never forget one morning when one volunteer called to file a report on one of the destroyed signs.
“Looks like they took an axe to it,” he told me.
Another day, I was called into the Campaign Managers corner of the upstairs office for a private discussion.
“Monica, there are McCain spies working here in the office,” he told me, “Don’t tip them off that we know, but don’t give them anything important to do either.”
Despite my personal general distaste for McCain, I reluctantly voted for him in 2008. It was one of the low points in my voting career.
Today, I woke up to read that McCain is criticizing Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster on the Senate floor over the issue of possible drone strikes against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. McCain dismissed Paul’s actions as a “stunt” and called Paul and other Senators “wacko birds.”
This is the same McCain who prided himself throughout his career on being a “maverick.” Over the years, he has happily irritated many fellow Republicans with what many would equally characterize as “stunts.”
I guess the message here is that a maverick is only a maverick unto himself. If he catches anyone else doing something for which he doesn’t approve, he’s a “wacko.”
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the worst thing McCain did. He also took a swipe at young people saying, “If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms.”
What a great way to win over those “impressionable libertarian kids!” We haven’t been winning their votes the last two elections, including the 2008 election headlined by none other than John McCain. Basically insulting them is the perfect way to turn that trend around, Senator McCain.
The GOP needs a fresh start in order to move forward. A great first step would be John McCain’s retirement from the U.S. Senate.