In a new memoir and documentary obtained by The New York Times, Sen. John McCain bashes President Donald Trump and says that picking Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008 was a mistake, the paper reported Saturday.
“The Restless Wave” — a book McCain acknowledges will be his last, given his battle with a brain tumo — is set to be released next month, accompanied by a two-hour HBO documentary.
In the book — described as McCain’s “final say on his career and a concluding argument for a brand of pro-free trade and pro-immigration Republicanism that, along with his calls for preserving the American-led international order, have grown out of fashion under President Trump” –the Times reported that, “Mr. McCain scorns Mr. Trump’s seeming admiration for autocrats and disdain for refugees.”
“He seems uninterested in the moral character of world leaders and their regimes,” McCain writes.
“The appearance of toughness or a reality show facsimile of toughness seems to matter more than any of our values. Flattery secures his friendship, criticism his enmity.”
The Times, with its typical light touch of unfailing objectivity, noted that “many in Mr. McCain’s own party believe that, by selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, he bears at least a small measure of blame for unleashing the forces of grievance politics and nativism within the Republican Party.
“While he continues to defend Ms. Palin’s performance, Mr. McCain uses the documentary and the book to unburden himself about not selecting (Joseph) Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent, as his running mate,” The Times reported.
At the time, advisers quite sensibly told McCain that running with a former Democrat probably wasn’t the best choice.
Lieberman, after all, was Al Gore’s vice presidential candidate, still caucused with the party and was in favor of abortion rights — all things that would kill his chances among Republicans and further doom his candidacy.
“It was sound advice that I could reason for myself,” McCain writes. “But my gut told me to ignore it and I wish I had.”
Yeah, because 2008 wasn’t a bad enough year for the Republicans.
In the documentary, McCain calls the decision to pick Palin “another mistake that I made” during his career, seeming to limit those mistakes to his refusal to speak out against the Confederate flag during the 2000 South Carolina presidential primary and his role in the Keating Five savings-and-loan scandal.
“It touched me greatly,” Lieberman, a close friend of McCain’s, said of McCain’s statement.
The revelation came on the same day NBC News reported that McCain told those close to him that he didn’t want the president invited to his funeral, preferring Vice President Mike Pence to be invited in his stead. He’s also said he wants a “McCain person” appointed to his Senate seat after his death, presumably one who would be just as willing to alienate conservatives as he is.
And make no mistake, he’s alienated plenty of them. McCain has served his country well, in Vietnam and sometimes in the legislature, and it’s painful to see what are most likely the last few months of a public individual’s life.
Instead of a graceful exeunt, however, McCain has again determined it’s in his best interests to bash Trump and Palin, ostensibly because they’re both unpopular with the kind of person who would consider themselves a “McCain Republican” in 2018.
Party unity simply for the sake of party unity may be a vastly overrated virtue. That still doesn’t mean it’s a great idea for McCain to go out swinging in the name of his own discredited personal brand of conservatism, one which has preserved Obamacare and damned any legitimate attempt to crack down on our porous borders.
If this is the “restless wave” of which McCain speaks in the title of his last book, its clear that wave peaked a long time ago.
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