Senator John McCain demonstrated in his debate with Representative Ann Kirkpatrick last night why he should not be returned to the Senate. Video of Senate Debate.
The first question from the moderators was about congressional gridlock: “Why do you want to return?” Similarly, the second question was about “How will you work across the aisle to make sure policy is passed and we stay out of stalemates?”
McCain said he has “been recognized as one of the foremost leaders in Congress.” Maybe by the Sunday morning bobbleheads on the Sunday talk shows (“If it’s Sunday, it’s John McCain“). The Beltway media villagers are McCain’s political base.”The number of times that Senator McCain hasn’t just been wrong, but deadly wrong, on matters of our security is nearly impossible to count.” The Media and John McCain: How Someone Always Wrong Is Always on TV. Many others have similarly written about how often John McCain has been wrong on almost every major policy decision in his 33 years in Washington.
McCain continued with his hackneyed claim that he is a “maverick,” and that he will continue to be a “maverick” in opposing his own party at times. The last time McCain ran for reelection in 2010, when he wasn’t saying Just complete the dang fence, he was saying that I’m not a maverick. “”I never considered myself a maverick,” McCain told Newsweek.” McCain’s ultimate maverick move, denial.
Neither Ann Kirkpatrick nor the moderators were prepared with facts to challenge McCain with his response.
Kirkpatrick’s response relied on her campaign theme of “term limits,” something Republicans tried to impose in the early 1990s but it was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as unconstitutional in a 5-4 decision in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton. It would require a constitutional amendment, something not likely to pass Congress. Kirkpatrick knows this, but she is using this issue only to suggest that McCain has been in Washington far too long, which is true.
On the issue of gridlock, neither Kirkpatrick nor the moderators pointed out the obvious fact that McCain has been a loyal soldier in Senator Mitch McConnell’s scorched earth plan to make Barack Obama “a one-term president” and that he has engaged in GOP obstruction on an unprecedented scale, including voting for an unprecedented number of filibusters. In McCain’s case, he has repeatedly demonstrated that he is a sore loser and is animated by animosity towards President Obama for having soundly defeated him in 2008.
On a question about the “trust” issue with Hillary Clinton, McCain challenged Kirkpatrick to rebuke Hillary Clinton “because of her lies on everything from Benghazi to her emails.” McCain later asserted that Clinton had disqualified herself in his opinion.
McCain resorted to the right-wing conspiracy theories about Benghazi! McCain asserted the claim by some parents of those killed in the Benghazi attack, largely Patricia Smith who spoke at the RNC Convention in July, that Clinton “lied” to her that the attack was due to an anti-Muslim video and that the U.S. would get the maker of the video.
First of all, reporters at the scene during the attack interviewed participants in the attack. The attackers acknowledged to a Libyan journalist working for The New York Times that “at the time that they were moved to act because of the video, which had first gained attention across the region after a protest in Egypt that day.” “At a news conference the day after the ambassador and three other Americans were killed, a spokesman for Ansar al-Shariah praised the attack as the proper response to such an insult to Islam.” Election-Year Stakes Overshadow Nuances of Libya Investigation. Initial intelligence reports also contained this information.
Second of all, what Clinton allegedly said to the families of those killed in Beghazi has been fact checked numerous times, but neither Kirkpatrick nor the moderators were prepared with the facts to challenge McCain.
Only two family members said Clinton spoke about a video, Patricia Smith and Charles Woods. Kate Quigley said that in her conversation with Clinton, she made no mention of a video, but did refer to a “spontaneous protest.” None of the other family members who agreed to be interviewed — Jan Stevens, Barbara Doherty, and Cheryl Croft Bennett — said Clinton made any reference to a video. “Indeed, other family members have been puzzled by the confident assertions of Woods and Smith.” What Benghazi family members say Hillary Clinton said about the video ; Checking Patricia Smith’s claims about Clinton and Benghazi.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who served on the Benghazi Select Committee, said at the time of the RNC Convention, Top Democrat Rips Trump And The RNC For Exploiting Benghazi For Political Gain:
“But watching Mrs. Smith I have to say was just very hard. She is deeply grieving. You have to respect that grief. You don’t have to respect the fact that the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign have decided to exploit this tragedy for political gain the way they have. We met with most of the family if not all of the family members and they were divided in their view of events, and I just think it terrible that to try to exploit this terrible tragedy. That the Republican Party would stoop to this….I think that this has been consummately politicized in the most blatant way….We’ve never politicized a tragedy like this, and I think it’s really unfortunate to bring a grieving woman in front of the convention in this way.”
Here was John McCain stooping to this level, shamelessly exploiting Benghazi parents once again during his debate, and no one called him out for it.
McCain has previously praised Hillary Clinton, as E.J. Montini of The Republic recounted earlier this year. Montini: McCain ad trashes Kirkpatrick for praising Hillary – like he did…A LOT.:
And second, what about all the support for Clinton that previously has been expressed by…McCain?
For example, when he said of then-Secretary of State Clinton, “She is a great representative of America, kind of a rock star status, visited more countries than any other secretary of state.”
Or when he said, “First of all, Secretary Clinton is admired and respected around the world. She and I have been friends for many years. We used to travel together…I admire the fact that she is admired throughout the world and a very effective secretary of state.”
Or when Clinton appeared before McCain’s foreign relations committee and he said, “Thank you, Madam Secretary. It’s wonderful to see you in good health and as combative as ever. It’s — we thank you. We thank you for your outstanding and dedicated service to this nation, and we are proud of you. All over the world where I travel, you are viewed with admiration and respect.”
Admiration and respect.
Proud of her.
And there was that time on television when McCain was asked if Clinton would make a good president.
He said, “I happen to be a Republican and would support, obviously, a Republican nominee, but I have no doubt that Senator Clinton would make a good president.”
So why weren’t the moderators prepared to confront McCain about his previous support for Clinton?
McCain also asserted another right-wing conspiracy, theory that FBI Director James Comey, a well respected Republican, is engaged in a cover-up of Clinton’s emails because he recommended no charges in the investigation, something the conservative media entertainment complex demanded. F.B.I. Director James Comey Recommends No Charges for Hillary Clinton on Email:
To warrant a criminal charge, Mr. Comey said, there had to be evidence that Mrs. Clinton intentionally transmitted or willfully mishandled classified information. The F.B.I. found neither, and as a result, he said, “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
McCain has joined Donald Trump in going down the rabbit hole. Trump asserted during the second debate that he would appoint a special prosecutor to prosecute Clinton, and if he were president, “you would be in jail.” Trump has since repeated this at his rallies to chants from his basket of deplorables to “lock her up!” This is the act of tin-pot dictators in Banana Republics. And here is John McCain giving voice to this notion.
McCain was asked “what took you so long” to renounce your endorsement of Trump? McCain gave a bullshit response about how “women cannot be demeaned and degraded in that way.” That’s pretty rich coming from a man who had an affair and has had some crude things to say about women himself.
McCain asserted he had been critical of Trump’s other outrageous comments about immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans, POWs, veterans with PTSD, etc., but the fact that he did not renounce his endorsement over 60 times only sent the signal that Trump’s earlier outrageous statements were OK with him and not enough to renounce his endorsement.
And as for McCain’s statement on Friday about Trump that “he alone bears the burden of his conduct and alone should suffer the consequences,” John Oliver of Last Week Tonight got it exactly right:
Except no, he alone does not bear the burden of his conduct, because he alone did not make himself your party’s nominee. All of you have consistently supported him through some absolutely heinous shit . . . And all of you still thought that he should be president. So the only way that you get to be shocked and outraged now is that if you were cryogenically frozen until Friday afternoon, and that Access Hollywood tape was the first thing you saw upon being reanimated. Anything less than that, and this is on you too.
McCain dismissed as “nonsense” a question about whether he trusted Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear button. He tried to assert that it was an academic question now because he has withdrawn his endorsement. But McCain eventually did concede that he supported Trump (having his finger on the nuclear button) “because I supported the nominee of my party.”
Well Johnny, there is only one of two people who will be elected President in November, and one of them is Donald Trump. So this is not an academic nor a rhetorical question. McCain asserted that he would write-in the name of his puppet boy, Little Lindsey Graham, when he votes for president, which I suspect is bullshit because he is a partisan hack who only cares about GOP control of power. Party before country.
Immigration reform came up and McCain tried to blame its failure on Democrats, using the Obama Timeline (history only began in January 2009). McCain asserted that Democrats had super-majorities in 2009 and did not pass immigration reform. That would be because on the day that Barack Obama took the oath of office, the country was in the midst of an economic catastrophe, the worst since the Great Depression, with the world’s financial system on the brink of collapse, as well as two wars. There were more pressing needs to address.
McCain must have forgotten the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007, of which he was a sponsor, only to see it go down to defeat in the Senate because of opposition from his seat-mate, Sen. John Kyl and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. That was your failure Johnny.
The later bipartisan Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, for which McCain wants credit, failed in the Tea-Publican controlled House without a vote. For all McCain’s assertions of his “knowledge and experience” to get things done, he has failed to get things done repeatedly. He has far less influence with his GOP colleagues than he does with a fawning Beltway media.
Despite seeking credit for his record of failure, McCain is opposed to president Obama’s executive orders for DACA and DAPA (currently being challenged in the courts). Rep. Kirkpatrick brought up that McCain voted against his own amendment to support the DREAMers. McCain lamely responded that was because it was not part of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, “everyone knows that.” The public does not know nor care about process, Johnny.
This led to question about the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. McCain asserted what some in the right-wing have falsely dubbed the “Biden Rule” about not filling a vacancy on the court during an election year. Just one problem, No, Joe Biden Didn’t Say That The Senate Should Block Supreme Court Nominees During An Election Year:
Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) urg[ed] President George H.W. Bush not to nominate a Supreme Court Justice during the 1992 election, should a seat on the court become vacant. Biden, then the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urged Bush “not name a nominee until after the November election is completed,” noting that if he did, “the Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over.”
Conservatives quickly pounced on the clip and used it as evidence to argue that Congressional Republicans are following long-standing precedent in refusing to consider President Obama’s nomination to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia until a new president takes the oath in January of 2017.
But Biden’s full speech undermines their claim. Rather than urging his colleagues to deny Bush’s potential nominee a hearing, Biden was bemoaning the politicization of the confirmation process — hence his suggestion of not holding a hearing in the heat of a presidential election — and what he saw as Bush’s refusal to properly consult with the Senate in selecting a nominee. In fact, just 10 minutes after calling for temporary inaction on Bush’s candidate, Biden actually promised to consider a moderate Supreme Court nominee.
“I believe that so long as the public continues to split its confidence between the branches, compromise is the responsible course both for the White House and for the Senate,” he said. “Therefore I stand by my position, Mr. President, if the President [George H.W. Bush] consults and cooperates with the Senate or moderates his selections absent consultation, then his nominees may enjoy my support as did Justices Kennedy and Souter.”
Neither Representative Kirkpatrick nor the moderators challenged McCain on his false statement.
This position taken by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans like John McCain is far different from Joe Biden. They will not even meet with Judge Merrick Garland nor give him the conformation hearing to which he is entitled. This is an unprecedented and unconstitutional “blockade” of President Obama’s nominee.
McCain actually claimed that the Constitution says “the president proposes, and the Congress disposes.” Sorry, Johnny, this is not in the Constitution.
Article II, Section 2, paragraph 2 of the United States Constitution states:
[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law…
Rep. Kirkpatrick pointed out that McCain had previously voted to confirm Merrick Garland to the bench, and now he will not even meet with him. She told him that he should do the job for which he is paid. McCain at first deflected by listing pork barrel projects that he has brought home to Arizona, ignoring the other part of his job which Kirkpatrick pointed out.
McCain then made the remarkable assertion that “I’d rather have eight justices on the court than a liberal justice.” McCain asserted that the views of the four “liberal” justices on the court are not in keeping with his views on the Constitution.” McCain’s views on the Constitution are not the litmus test for qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court.
Based upon McCain’s opposition to a “liberal” justice from a Democratic president, McCain may believe as some conservatives have suggested to leave Justice Scalia’s seat vacant until after the 2020 election. There was no follow-up question on this from Rep. Kirkpatrick nor the moderators.
There was a question on ObamaCare, which appears to be the central focus of McCain’s negative campaign ads. I have previously pointed out that McCain’s ads are misleading on insurance rates. John McCain misleads voters on ‘ObamaCare’. McCain’s ads now assert that ObamaCare has been “devastating to Arizona.” He was not asked to explain this claim by the moderators.
McCain, like all Tea-Publicans, wants to repeal ObamaCare in its entirety and replace it with some unicorn plan that the GOP has had six years to put together but has not done so. Jared Bernstein writes at the Washington Post today, The Affordable Care Act is covering people, holding down costs and not killing jobs:
[T]he ACA, while not perfect, is working remarkably well. The ACA debate, on the other hand, has become inseparable from intense partisan politics and this has led to incessant hand-waving and smoke-blowing such that it’s impossible to get the straight dope on its impact.
Supporters aren’t blameless, as we should have expected (and warned people) that a complex policy dealing with a sector that’s 17 percent of GDP is going to get some things wrong out of the gate. To this day, the ACA needs recalibration (e.g., “thin” individual markets with too few providers).
But the idea that it should be repealed flies in the face of these facts:
Fact 1: The ACA has had the truly remarkable — almost unprecedented — impact of lowering the share of Americans without health coverage.
Fact 2: The efficiencies in health-care delivery that the ACA has helped to usher along are one reason both spending and prices in the sector are growing more slowly. Also remarkable is the fact that current projections for future health spending are below those from January 2010, before the ACA was legislated[.]
Fact 3: There’s no evidence for the claim that the ACA a “job killer.” We are in the midst of the longest period of continuous job growth on record and the job market is closing in on full employment[.]
* * *
Like I said, the ACA isn’t perfect (I noted the individual market problem above, but remember: a) only 6 percent of those with coverage are in the non-group market, and b) a public option is a simple solution to this problem). But it’s a vast improvement over what came before, it’s providing affordable coverage to millions, it’s holding down costs beyond many of our expectations, and it’s not hurting job growth.
Those who want to repeal it need to convincingly explain how their plan achieves these goals, and trust me, they’ve not even begun to do soThat’s because their true motivation is because it’s “Obamacare.” And that, my friends, is no plan at all.
Oooh, Bernstein borrowed McCain’s annoying habit of saying “my friends” to demonstrate that his “devastating” claims are bullshit.
Rep. Kirkpatrick correctly argued that had this Tea-Publican Congress worked to fix problems in ObamaCare rather than perpetually try to repeal it more than 60 times over the past six years, some of the problems with the exchange markets would have been resolved already.
McCain asserted that a Gallup poll demonstrates that Americans are opposed to ObamaCare. That poll in May actually showed Americans Slowly Embracing Affordable Care Act More. And the other part of that poll that McCain does not want to mention is this: Majority in U.S. Support Idea of Fed-Funded Healthcare System: 58% favor replacing the ACA with federally funded healthcare system. Can you imagine McCain or any Tea-Publican voting for this?
A question was asked about the economy and McCain gave the only answer Tea-Publicans are allowed to say: reduce regulations. He specifically cited the Environmental Protection Agency and President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (being challenged in the courts), and ObamaCare. He wants to return control to the states, i.e., “states rights!”
The moderators asked McCain “How do we avoid the collapse of the economy during the Bush years from tax cuts and deregulation” of the financial services sector? McCain actually asserted with a straight face that deregulation of the financial services sector was not a factor in the economic collapse in 2008. His level of ignorance is disqualifying.
McCain also asserted that the recovery has been the slowest in history, and blamed it on President Obama’s stewardship. At least we have had a recovery from the miserable failure of the Bush years, in which McCain was complicit. The Aughts were a lost decade for U.S. economy, workers.
Neither Rep. Kirkpatrick nor the moderators pointed out the obvious fact that McCain has been a loyal soldier in Senator Mitch McConnell’s scorched earth plan to make Barack Obama “a one-term president” and that he has engaged in GOP obstruction on an unprecedented scale, including voting for an unprecedented number of filibusters. Just call McCain “Senator Obstruction.” McCain and his party put partisan politics ahead of country.
A question was asked about the VA Hospital scandal in Phoenix. Neither Rep. Kirkpatrick nor the moderators asked McCain the pertinent questions posed by The Republic‘s E.J. Montini in 2014, Why didn’t Sen. McCain spot the VA crisis?
John McCain has been a U.S. Senator for a very, very long time. He has a strong connection to the military based on his own service and his time as a POW in Vietnam. He cares deeply about veterans and veterans issues.
The crisis with the VA hospitals came to light because of problems in Phoenix — McCain’s home city.
So is it fair to ask: Where was John McCain when these problems were developing?
He’s a senior senator. He’s the state’s highest ranking federal official. He is deeply concerned with veterans issues. Should he or his staff have a strong connection to the local VA? Given that, does McCain feel as if HE bears any responsibility for not recognizing a problem?
Or should members of Congress who represent communities where VA problems have surfaced bear no responsibility at all?
And if so, why not?
Nor did anyone ask McCain about his plans to privatize the VA either. McCain’s Bill Mandates VA Wholesale Privatization ; McCain and veterans groups aren’t always on the same page.
A question was asked about terrorism and national security, and “Surge” McCain once again asserted his discredited claim that had the U.S. stayed in Iraq, ISIS would not have arisen. ISIS was previously known as Al Qaida in Iraq and existed before McCain’s “surge.” Al Qaida did not exist in Iraq prior to the unnecessary and illegal invasion of Iraq, an act John McCain long advocated for and supported. Neither Rep. Kirkpatrick nor the moderators confronted McCain with his war mongering history, and how he was wrong about Iraq.
McCain said it was a “lie” that a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) was needed to stay in Iraq. Maybe not in “McCain World” where “might makes right.” The fact checkers disagree.
Shortly before Obama took office in January 2009, his predecessor, George W. Bush, finalized an agreement after about a year of negotiations with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Called the Status of Forces Agreement, it spelled out the withdrawal of all American troops by the end of 2011. Obama wanted to keep 10,000 troops in Iraq:
What killed the deal
The agreement failed over a demand that American troops be given immunity from prosecution by Iraqis, a very touchy political issue within the Iraqi Parliament. Some experts said Iraqi leaders may not have been willing to take great political risk with their citizens in exchange for a relatively small American force.
But no immunity meant no sizable residual troop presence.
“When the Americans asked for immunity, the Iraqi side answered that it was not possible,” al-Maliki said in an October 2011 news conference. “The discussions over the number of trainers and the place of training stopped. Now that the issue of immunity was decided and that no immunity to be given, the withdrawal has started.”
Obama implemented the phase-out plan laid out by George W. Bush. In a 2010 tweet, McCain declared victory in Iraq and gave credit to Bush.
McCain was asked by the moderators if he wants more troops in Iraq. But of course he does.
McCain wants and additional 100,000 American troops in Iraq — a round number he pulled out of his ass without any assessment for actual needs. McCain also wants to invade another sovereign country, Syria, to take out the “capitol” of ISIS in Raqqa. McCain wants to “go to Racca and kill them.”
But McCain and his Tea-Publican cohorts have twice refused to even take up President Obama’s request for an Authorization for Use of Force in Syria.”Rules, we don’t need no stinkin’ rules!”
And there was no follow-up question about the fact that Russia is defending its puppet regime in Syria, and any U.S. invasion of Syria would be turning a proxy war into a potential super-power conflict. Neither Rep. Kirkpatrick nor the moderators brought up this obvious fact. Everyone let McCain get away with his saber-rattling war mongering.
A couple of times McCain said something about ISIS leader Baghdadi is sending people with “encrypted apps” across the U.S.-Mexico border — to carry out terrorist attacks? No one asked McCain to explain his odd comment. I have no idea.
Finally, McCain said he is opposed to Prop. 206, the minimum wage initiative. Rep. Kirkpatrick is for Prop. 206.