Brian Birdnow

Last week the never-ending carnival known as American politics witnessed the return of one of its most talented barkers, the esteemed Arizona Senator and former Republican Presidential candidate John McCain. It may be inaccurate to speak of McCain’s return, since he had never actually left. More precisely, we are witnessing the return of John McCain, the media darling, and the liberals favorite self-styled conservative Republican.

We know this as the result of a puff piece written by Washington Post political writer Dana Milbank, who interviewed McCain at the Russell Senate Office Building on Monday July 22nd. Milbank singled McCain out for fulsome praise, starting with relating a McCain joke, which purportedly showed that in a poll the American people ranked Congress less favorably than the prospect of a full colonoscopy. There is, as yet, no way of knowing how Obamacare will affect the colonoscopy market, but no matter. Milbank likes the punch line wherein McCain says that he intends to make Congress more popular than a colonoscopy.

Milbank then moves into the meat of his essay. He waxes rhapsodic over McCain’s comments during their interview. The Senator praised President Obama’s race-baiting speech of last Friday on the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman imbroglio and proposed a review of “stand-your-ground” laws. McCain is simply grandstanding here because he knows that the Senate has no authority for forcing changes in state criminal laws. If he doesn’t know this he should be forced to take a remedial course in Constitution 101.

Mr. Milbank then goes on to give a recitation of McCain’s latest and greatest hits. McCain, “Brokered a deal averting a procedural meltdown in the Senate over the filibuster.” Yes, McCain arranged for another Republican surrender, which delights Milbank to no end. He goes on to label McCain as, “…a key figure in drafting the bi-partisan immigration bill that cleared the Senate” making no mention of the fact that McCain’s 2007 attempt to grant immigration amnesty helped lead to the GOP election debacle the following year. Finally DM credits McCain for referring to some of his Republican Senatorial colleagues as “wacko birds”, which is, of course, music to a Democratic journalist’s ears. Milbank has not, however, been so generous in his praise of anyone who has had the temerity to speak ill of President Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Nancy Pelosi. Milbank finishes his introduction with a flourish: “All of this is to say the Mac is Back. Again” The tribute then kicks into high gear, but the reader can find this further down the page.

Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.