Few would argue that Sen. John McCain has not sacrificed much for his country. He was a POW in Vietnam after his plane was shot down, during which time he was brutally tortured in the notorious Hanoi Hilton. Nobody denies that this is something we should all recognize and respect.
This is usually used as a disclaimer before or an incantation against Sen. McCain’s record this past decade. While the Arizona senator has never been as conservative as some of his Republican counterparts, you could at least say he was reliable. That’s changed in recent years when he’s made it clear he’s with the Democrats on a number of issues.
Take Obamacare, where McCain cast the vote that saved the failing health care initiative. Or take immigration, where he partnered with Democrats on an amnesty plan which was pretty much dead on arrival.
For younger conservatives who are just getting interested in politics and are less familiar with McCain as either a war hero or from his two presidential campaigns — as an anti-establishment challenger to George W. Bush in 2000 or the Republican standard-bearer in 2008 — they only know McCain as having betrayed the conservative cause.
And, at the Turning Point USA high school leadership conference in Washington D.C. this week, he got a round of boos from attendees.
The conference, which featured speeches by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Ambassador Nikki Haley and Donald Trump Jr., among others, featured about 700 young conservatives from around the country.
The booing took place during Sen. Rand Paul’s speech when he brought up why Obamacare repeal had failed.
“And guess what? The reason we didn’t repeal is that we have six or seven Republican senators who got cold feet,” Sen. Paul said, before adding dryly, “Let’s just say John McCain.”
That brought a shower of boos from the audience:
— Cassandra Fairbanks ? (@CassandraRules) July 24, 2018
We bring this up because perhaps this represents the wisdom of youth. Yes, John McCain is a hero. Yes, he’s currently battling cancer bravely. Neither of these things are in question.
How often, however, are they used as a tarpaulin to cover up McCain’s failures as a political figure?
It’s one thing for Democrats to obstruct the Republican Party. That’s to be expected. And there are other RINOs in the Senate (see: Collins, Susan; Flake, Jeff). That being said, no Republican has ever sold out and obstructed his own party so much as McCain has over the past few years.
This has been combined with his inveterate hatred for Donald Trump. Until he became too ill to do it, the only reason McCain would appear on the Sunday morning political talk shows is to bash the president. (In fact, one suspects it was the only reason he was invited on.)
While one understands President Trump is a divisive figure, McCain’s invective does nothing except to aid the Democrats, who want everything to be a referendum on the president.
I pointed out earlier in the piece that these young conservatives are less familiar with McCain’s war record or presidential runs. That doesn’t mean they’re unaware of them. In other words, unlike so many in the party now, they’re able to disassociate the honorable things McCain has done with his appalling record of late in the Senate. If only more Republicans would follow these students’ lead and hold the senator from Arizona accountable instead of letting him hide behind things that happened almost half a century ago.
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