A friend wrote to me about Senator McCain, “What was he thinking, or not thinking?” And inquires if I have a theory.
On July 25, I wrote of the senator’s return to the senate to vote to allow debate on health insurance, remarking about his appeal to work across the aisle. Two days later, he voted “nay,” in opposition to the so-called “skinny” bill that would have sent it to the House for conference.
As someone who has long had mixed feelings about the Arizona senator, more recently considering him a Republican in name only (a RINO), I simply responded to my friend, “I can’t figure him out.”
While thinking about McCain, however, another Arizona Republican senator came to mind – Barry Goldwater – who McCain eventually replaced. Goldwater, too, confused conservatives in his later years in office. He became a gay rights activist and championed homosexuals serving in the military. And, his views on religious freedom were contrary to conservative thinking.
In retirement, his frequent bursts of Goldwater “wisdom” from his Paradise Valley mountain top, continued to puzzle the Party. In 1992, he endorsed Karen English, a Democrat, over Doug Weed in Arizona’s Sixth District. Though she won, she was defeated by Republican firebrand J.D. Hayworth after just one term.
He once urged Republicans critical of former President Bill Clinton to “get off his back.” He later remarked that he worried about Bill Clinton’s conduct of American foreign policy, because “he doesn’t know a goddamn thing about it.” He added that, “if he’d let his wife (Hillary) run business, I think he’d be better off.”
However, he was highly critical of Hillary’s health care proposal, stating, “If you made it law, it would cost as much as the whole country is worth. I would have to sell my automobile, my house, my property, everything, and contribute it to that, and you know that’s not going to happen.”
Despite Goldwater’s changing position on social matters, during his five terms as Arizona’s senator, he was extremely loyal to the Republican Party. He passionately opposed social welfare, regulation and high taxes, and was frequently accused of being too extreme. To that he said, unapologetically:
“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
I choose not to pile on Senator McCain as he faces critical treatment for brain cancer. My comments would seem so petty. Let’s just leave it that I was extremely disappointed in his vote to “kill” the Republican effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare, after making his courageous trip back to the Senate to assure the floor debate.
Godspeed, Senator McCain.