John McCain, everyone’s go-to Republican if you’re looking for smack-talk about another Republican, was at it again in New York Magazine. He got on the subject of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and that became conflated with the targeted leaks that forced the resignation of Mike Flynn as National Security Adviser.
No one knew it at the time, but this congenial lunch was perhaps John McCain’s last sanguine moment about the Trump administration. In the two weeks since, he has watched as allegations about Russian involvement in the election — and possibly in American foreign policy — picked up steam, and as Michael Flynn was forced to resign as national-security adviser after revelations that he improperly discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador (and then lied to the vice-president about it). To McCain, these are red-line issues. No matter how much he likes the prospect of deregulation, the compromising of America’s sovereignty was pushing him closer to the barricades.
“The severity of this issue, the gravity of it, is so consequential because if you succeed in corrupting an election, then you’ve destroyed the foundation of democracy,” he told me later. “So I view it with the utmost seriousness. I view it more seriously than a physical attack. I view it more seriously than Orlando, or San Bernardino. As tragic as that was, the far-reaching consequences of an election hack are certainly far in excess of a single terrorist attack.”
Now McCain is renewing his calls for a bipartisan select committee to look into Trump’s ties to Russia, which could ultimately put pressure on the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor — a probe that could get perilous for the president. While he is meeting with resistance from party leaders so far, McCain plans to use his role as chair of the Armed Services Committee and ex officio member of the Intelligence Committee to push for answers. The Trump administration’s viability rests on the support of a Republican Congress, and what John McCain is doing, carefully but with growing fervor, could shake its foundations.
Can we really get a grip here. Dead people and a email hack are not even in the same universe in terms of importance.
The hack of the DNC and of John Podesta were of great amusement to those of us who followed politics but those leaks played zero role in the actual campaign. The press, naturally, covered the leak itself but did not cover the duplicity and dishonest revealed by the hacks because then they would have had to cover the obscene number of media figures who actually cleared their stories on Hillary Clinton with the Clinton campaign before publishing them. The whole Russia-influenced-the-election meme was concocted by the Obama White House some time after November 9 as a smear directed against the Trump administration.
The facts are that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and had she and her campaign not been total lackwits who held rural and white voters in total contempt she could have won because the election hinged on a few hundred thousand votes in a few key congressional districts, none of which have the demographic profile of people who obsess about what was leaked from the DNC email server.
And while this is not McCain’s fault, the author of this story is a freakin moron. There has been no allegation from anyone other than the leftwing press and the usual #NeverTrump fetishists on the right that Flynn’s contact was “improper.” Flynn was forced out because he wasn’t truthful with Mike Pence.
But the idea that the hack of Podesta’s email and of the DNC email server are somehow more c0nsequential than 138 Americans killed and wounded in terror attacks is not merely ridiculous. It is shameful and disgusting. But this has become part of McCain’s persona since Trump’s election. In order to criticize Trump for a raid in which a single American commando was killed, McCain not only classified that mission as a failure, he went on to say that he considered any mission that resulted in the loss of American life to be a failure. This is bonkers. The temporary embarrassment of some of McCain’s cronies from the political class in neither a danger to democracy nor is it in the same league with actual people being killed by actual terrorists.
If McCain was really interested in the well-being of the republic, and not just in score-settling, he’d be asking how and why classified information from a classified program was leaked and used in a calculated political hit on Mike Flynn (don’t get me wrong, I always thought Flynn lacked the temperament for a job that requires consensus building but the way he was taken out was wrong and dangerous). But that kind of call for investigation is not going to get McCain puff pieces in magazines that are read by the right people and it won’t get him invited on the right shows and to the right parties.
I think the last paragraph is completely accurate, though. McCain hates Trump, not without cause, and McCain is nothing if not a vindictive megalomaniac who would be perfectly happy to undercut the entire administration in order to even a score with Trump.