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My pal Gary Robbins has a post up critical of Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake having told people who “love John McCain” to “get the hell out” of one of her rallies. Another Ricochet regular, @painterjean, has been critical of Lake’s comment in a couple of other comment threads. I think that they raise an important point, but I want to explain the context.
There was a bitter feud between Donald Trump and former Arizona Sen. John McCain. In many ways, McCain became emblematic of the “establishment GOP” opposition to Trump’s candidacy and agenda. At first, I was more of an establishment Republican myself, and strongly opposed Trump in the primaries. I avoided digging in my heels by adopting a “NeverTrump” position, and once he won the nomination, gave him a chance to make his case for my vote in 2016.
I thought that Trump did so, and I voted for him, with some trepidation, in 2016. His governance won me over, and I became a pretty enthusiastic supporter. To the point of having a post here at Ricochet showing my ugly mug wearing my new MAGA hat.
I think that McCain was clearly the aggressor in the feud with Trump. Very early in Trump’s campaign, in July 2015, McCain responded to Trump’s immigration message, in a rally in Arizona, by accusing Trump of “firing up the crazies.” (One of many stories here.)
This from Senator “Gang-of-Eight” himself, who probably did more than any other politician in America to prevent useful action to secure the border, for a decade or more, while millions of illegals swarmed into our country and our state.
If anything, it got worse. Many of you might not recall the effort to repeal Obamacare in 2017. President Trump had taken office, and Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate. There were a variety of repeal bills, culminating in the following on July 27, 2017 (this is the Wikipedia explanation, here):
The skinny repeal, which was still being drafted on July 27, only repeals some provisions of the ACA, among them the individual mandate, requiring that all Americans buy insurance or pay a tax penalty, and parts of the employer mandate, which requires employers with greater than 50 employees to pay for health care for their employees. The bill was brought to the floor vote and the vote reached the predicted 49–50, majority being in favor of keeping the ACA as is. A tie would have allowed Vice President Mike Pence to cast a final tie breaking vote. The final vote was to be McCain, who walked to the floor in near silence and held out his hand. In a very climactic moment, he gave a thumbs down and the bill was rejected 49–51, with two other Republican senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, siding with all Democrats and Independents.
I had voted for McCain as my Senator, on many occasions, and I voted for him for President in 2008. In his last Senate run, he campaigned on repealing Obamacare. But he was the deciding vote against that repeal.
I can hardly express how infuriating this action was. McCain was already stricken with the cancer that would eventually be fatal. His dramatic “thumbs down” doesn’t seem like a thumbs down, to me. It feels like a giant middle finger, raised to President Trump, and to me.
So by that time, I wasn’t much of a fan of McCain.
Then he died. And oh, Lord, the tributes were just sickening to me. It felt like the Democrats and the establishment GOP made every effort to genuflect to the backstabbing McCain. Once again, it felt like a giant middle finger raised to President Trump, and to me.
I don’t think that this is an overreaction. I don’t recall any state funeral that received as much attention as McCain’s, perhaps until the multiple funerals of St. George of Minneapolis. McCain was given the unusual honor of lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda. Here’s a list of those so honored between 2000 and 2020:
- President Ronald Reagan
- President Gerald Ford
- Sen. Daniel Inouye
- Sen. John McCain
- President George Bush
- Rep. John R. Lewis
That’s some pretty heady company. Why did McCain get this special treatment? I think that it was political theater, directed at President Trump.
There was even a cross-country funeral procession, apparently, like McCain was Winston Churchill or something.
I don’t think that this is an overreaction on my part. Here is a New Yorker article at the time, titled “John McCain’s Funeral Was The Biggest Resistance Movement Yet.” Here’s the opening paragraph:
Donald Trump’s name was never mentioned. It didn’t have to be. The funeral service for John Sidney McCain III, at the Washington National Cathedral, on this swampy Saturday morning, was all about a rebuke to the pointedly uninvited current President of the United States, which was exactly how McCain had planned it.
Guess who was there to eulogize McCain. Two former Presidents, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. What a perfect illustration of how the establishment GOP was united with the Democrats against President Trump and his supporters, including me.
So this is the context, folks. Like Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, McCain apparently planned his own funeral as a way to stab at Trump from Hell’s heart. I found the whole episode despicable.
I hope that this gives you some insight into the Trump-McCain feud, and the perspective of this particular Arizona voter.
When Kari Lake asked, as Gary’s post reported, “are there any people here who love John McCain,” this is the history that she was referencing. McCain despised us, backstabbed us on immigration and Obamacare, and used his friggin’ funeral to give us the metaphorical finger, one last time.
So yeah, maybe “get the hell out” is an understandable thing to say to Arizona voters who love John McCain.Published in