Is he kidding?
IC: When Hillary Clinton versus Rand Paul occurs in 2016, I guess you are going to have to decide who to vote for, huh?
JM: It’s gonna be a tough choice [laughs].
JM: Let me just clarify that. I think that Rand Paul represents a segment of the GOP, just like his father. And I think he is trying to expand that, intelligently, to make it larger.
It’s usually liberals who suggest that the once great Republican Party has been “hijacked” by nefarious conservatives who wage wars on women and want to bring back Jim Crow. That isn’t quite what McCain is saying here, of course, but if he’s not sure whether to vote for Rand Paul or Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical matchup in 2016, I have to question where his true allegiances lie, don’t I? If you self-identify as a Republican, there should be absolutely no question whatsoever who you would support if these two pols were their respective party’s nominees for president three years from now. The fact that McCain equivocates is telling. And by the way, if he genuinely doesn’t know who he’d support, he should just make things easier on everyone and leave the party. I’m sure the Democrats would welcome him with open arms.
Then again, my hunch here is that he’s not at all serious (he laughs, doesn’t he?) and is simply trying to make a political point. McCain, after all, as the New Republic points out, has (surprisingly) been a key political ally in the Senate for the president. He helped steer the “Gang of Eight” monstrosity to passage and is working openly with Democrats on a host of other issues. He’s “bipartisan.” Rand Paul, by contrast, as well as all the other Tea Partiers in the upper chamber, are not. They are intransigent and uncompromising. They impede progress. Thus, McCain must be getting sick and tired of freshmen upstarts refusing to toe the party line, even if the laws they want to defund and the bills they oppose are without question in keeping with their convictions and the pledge they made to constituents.
I suspect McCain doesn’t care about any of that. So perhaps this is his way of “sticking it” to one of his least favorite conservative Senate colleagues -- you know, the same guy he once affectionately referred to as a “wacko bird.”