Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Sins of Gop 'Moderates' They Talk Sensibly but Enable the Extremists

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Sins of Gop 'Moderates' They Talk Sensibly but Enable the Extremists

Article excerpt

Pundits talk a lot about the awfulness of Donald Trump - and with reason. But can we also consider the awfulness of Sen. John McCain? Awfulness somewhat redeemed by his last-minute vote on health care.

What has been going on in the Senate these past few days is one of the most shameful episodes in that body's history. Policy that will affect the lives of millions of Americans, that will shape a sixth of the economy, was rushed through a chaotic, cynical process.

And Mr. McCain has been a crucial enabler. Tuesday, he cast the decisive vote allowing this whole travesty to proceed. Then he gave a sanctimonious speech denouncing partisanship and divisiveness, and declared that while he voted to allow debate to begin, he would never vote for the existing Senate bill without major changes. Later that day, he voted for that very bill, even though it hadn't changed in any significant way.

It got worse. Thursday, Senate leaders threw together a new bill that would totally restructure health care - health care! - over lunch, to be voted on within a few hours.

And three senators, including Mr. McCain, declared in a press conference that they would vote for this "skinny reform" - but only if assured that the House would go into conference rather than simply pass it. That is, they were willing to vote for something they knew was terrible policy, as long as they were assured that it wouldn't actually become law. The dignity of the Senate, 21st-century style.

Why not just vote no and try to come up with good policy? Because, as they also knew, Republicans don't have good policies to offer, so a bum's rush is the only way they could pass anything. And, until the last-minute vote early Friday morning, Mr. McCain, who has demanded a return to "regular order" in the Senate, turned out to be perfectly willing to help the bums get rushed.

When we look at the degeneration of American politics, it's natural to blame the naked partisans - people like Mitch McConnell, with his principle-free will to power, or Ted Cruz, with his ideological rigidity. And Mr. Trump has, of course, done more to degrade his office than any previous occupant of the White House. …

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