My email boxes filled up this weekend with people wanting my take on the "censuring" of wealthy Republican John Sidney McCain III by the Arizona Republican Party.
The decision certainly attracted much attention among his chief constituency. The Wire reported, "Citing his 'long and terrible record of drafting, co-sponsoring and voting for legislation best associated with liberal Democrats,' the Arizona Republican Party passed a resolution attacking Senator John McCain for being too liberal." It added, "It remains difficult to be a maverick."
For the New York Times, McCain "has become known for his willingness to work across party lines" and the Gray Lady (using a Reuters story) took comfort in former Sen. Jon Kyl telling the Arizona Republic, "I've gone to dozens of these meetings and every now and then some wacky resolution gets passed."
Over at the Washington Post, the story noted that "McCain has been dogged by conservatives objecting to his views on immigration and campaign finance, among other issues, since he first ran for Congress in 1982. Republican activists were also turned off by his moderate stances in the 2000 presidential race."
McCain's constituency is the media and they just can't quit him, their make-believe straight-talk express "moderate."
The reality is very different. As a politician, McCain has always been most distinguished by his opportunism. Arizona best fit the bill for his desire to be in Congress, maybe even more, once he married the beer heiress Cindy Lou Hensley. Whatever "moderate" or "maverick" position McCain seemed to take could always be jettisoned for career advancement. For example, he was for torture after he was against it.
This is old news for anyone who has been paying attention. What is notable, and censure-worthy, about McCain is how little he has done for his "home" state in his nearly three decades in the House and Senate. As in, next to nothing.
It is also no new news that the Arizona Republican Party has gone insane. Exhibit A is the High Sheriff of Maricopa County, who has cost taxpayers $44.4 million through his incompetence, malpractice and brutishness — and he's beloved by people who would refuse to spend a dime on transit or "government schools." He will be in office for life.
Some of this madness is indigenous — Arizona was a John Birch hotbed as early as the 1950s and gave rise to Evan Mecham. Most of it is the ideological nationalization of state parties through organizations from the Christian Coalition and assorted "think tanks" to ALEC and FreedomWorks.
The revolution devours its children, so it should be no surprise that McCain would become a "RINO." Yesterday's reliable reactionary must be led to the guillotine under that murky if ill-understood charge of liberalism.
Otherwise, how can the masses of angry old Anglos be kept in a perpetual, malleable fury? New enemies must always be found. J'accuse!
As for Barry Goldwater, Paul Fannin, Jack Williams, Burt Barr, Sam Steiger, John Rhodes — they couldn't even come in fifth in a primary election for a school-board election.
The median age of Americans in 2010 was nearly 37. Thus a majority of people have no real memory of the GOP as a mass political party with real conservatives, liberals and "moderates," working in a system where compromise got things done. You know, things like the Central Arizona Project, and long before that, the Newlands Act.
Republicans live within their Fox "News" echo chamber where the facts have a well-known liberal bias. To be sure, GOP delegations in states such as Texas make sure they bring home the bacon and look after the interests of their state. But otherwise, the party stands for nihilism and setting people against each other. (And it's not as if I am a red-diaper baby).
Back in media-ville, there are many obituaries for this radical party. Here's a new Salon piece about "How the right destroyed itself."
The trouble is, we're living in the nation run by Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, Darrell Issa et al and their corporate puppetmasters. Barack Obama just happens to be the elected president under this increasing charade called constitutional democracy.
They set the agenda. They mostly get their way, even if, to keep the troops ginned up, they must appear perpetually under siege by SOCIALISM (if this is socialism, or social democracy, where the hell is my free universal health care, university education, high-speed rail and month's paid vacation?).
Yes, gay rights are advancing. Otherwise, the reactionary right controls the agenda. This despite the fact that President Obama was elected and re-elected by comfortable margins and the Democrats (and two independents caucusing with them) hold a majority in the Senate (55 seats). Not only that, but Democrats won the House of Representatives in 2012 by nearly 59.3 million votes to 57.6 million for the Republicans.
Unfortunately for America, the GOP has so successfully gerrymandered House districts that it ensured Democrats would get only 201 of the 435 seats in the lower chamber of Congress. These are the wages of the 2010 tea-party victory and redistricting that followed as Republicans controlled most state Legislatures.
So observers may dance on the graves of this party of dying old white men. But they will be with us — over us — at least until 2020 and perhaps long afterward. By that time, the sinews of constructive governance and civic practice will be long atrophied and forgotten. And do not assume Democrats can keep the Senate this year or win the presidency in 2016.
So let the east-coast media fret about McCain. The rest of us have much bigger problems.