In the wake of the Republicans' failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, the media has found its one true hero - their decades-long man crush, John McCain. And while it is true that McCain was one of three Republican Senators who voted with the entire Democratic caucus to tank the so-called "skinny repeal" that represented the last ditch effort to pass something, ANYTHING Republicans could point to as dismantling the Affordable Care Act, the media’s reflexive fellating of McCain was as predictable as it was misguided.
Of course, as a former flyboy, McCain knew how to milk the drama for all it was worth - ambling onto the Senate floor, gesturing to be recognized, and uttering a single syllable, "no,” as his mic drop moment.
Reporters could not get enough of this - the return of the maverick, blah blah blah, but while McCain did show some political courage, can we not lose sight of several underreported truths?
1. McCain himself helped create this imbroglio by (more drama!) flying back to DC from Arizona to cast a vote that opened debate in the first place. Had he not done this (or voted not to open debate) the rest of the episode never would have happened.
2. The relentless pressure by activists had far more to do with all of the Senate efforts being struck down than anything McCain did after not only voting to open debate but then voting in favor of certain options that other Republicans helped vote down.
3. Why is the media bending over backwards to laud three Republican Senators, representing less than 10% of their caucus, for voting to NOT strip 16 million people of health insurance? This is a profile in courage? Perhaps some rethinking of how public policy is reported is also in order.
4. Another Senator is battling cancer. Her name is Maisie Hirono, and, unlike McCain, never wavered in her desire to protect access to health insurance for her fellow Americans.
5. Read McCain's statement released after "skinny repeal" went down. Here’s part of what he had to say:
“I’ve stated time and time again that one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict-party line basis (ed. note: that’s a lie) without a single Republican vote. We should not make the mistakes of the past that has led to Obamacare’s collapse, (ed. note: also a lie) including in my home state of Arizona where premiums are skyrocketing (ed. note: one more lie) and health care providers are fleeing the marketplace.”
He also said his goal is to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. This is the hero? Three lies in two sentences from a guy who was given the chance to work with Democrats in 2009 and 2010 but refused to do so? Who has had the better part of seven years to float his own ideas but has remained silent? Seriously?
This is all on top of the fact that McCain, whose health insurance is as gold-plated as it gets and who has been in Congress for more than 30 years, was even opening the door to the possibility that a law would be enacted taking health insurance away from people who are not like him (i.e., a multi-millionaire member of Congress with access to the best health care money can buy), will now be lost to the memory hole of history. It should not. What modicum of political courage he exercised very early Friday morning should not excuse what he did to help instigate the drama or take away from the people who worked far harder than he did to block this dangerous action from going forward.
Follow me on Twitter - @scarylawyerguy