McCain, that rascally maverick, flew into the upper chamber to vote on a motion to allow debate on his party’s health care nightmare, despite being diagnosed with brain cancer only a few days ago. He then had the gall to crown this reckless, horrible move—one that upends years of precedent in the Senate—with some Sorkin-esque pablum condemning the Senate for turning its back on the democratic process and calling for a return to regular order. And that is all it takes to impress some members of the political press:
It is no admonishment at all. His vote, in fact, was a gesture of complicity. McCain has performed this gross two-step throughout his recent career, taking the high road in his rhetoric while going along with his party on whatever depraved route they take. He is not a maverick; he is a conventional Republican through and through. He criticizes Donald Trump but does nothing substantive to resist Trump’s agenda. He takes to the Senate floor to bemoan the death of bipartisanship and the failure of his beloved institutions, but sanctions a legislative process that willfully violated regular order at every possible turn and in the most flagrant way possible.
The Senate’s lack of order reflects a broader social breakdown. There will be no return to “regular order” for the Americans who will suffer and die if health insurance is taken away from them. “Regular order” is blown apart, and the sick irony, which McCain fails to grasp, is that he helped light the fuse.
“Both sides have let this happen,” he complained today, and in a way he is correct. For proof, see the Democrats who hugged him after he cast his vote and applauded his return to the chamber. “Let’s trust each other,” McCain implored. “Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle.” But is it really possible to forge bipartisan comity with a man who, like the rest of his party, is running basic democratic practices into the ground? Democrats will have to make a stark choice between being the GOP’s allies or its obstacles. Lives depend on the choice they make.