John McCain tried to grab a few minutes at the end of the Ted Cruz filibuster, leading magnificently sarcastic Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan to Tweet that McCain wanted to give the Democratic response to Cruz’ speech.
Eventually McCain got to the floor, and sure enough, he handed out Democrat talking points left and right, including a variation on Barack Obama’s “I won” insistence that “elections have consequences,” so good little Republicans should play ball with ObamaCare. He also spent a bizarre amount of time railing against Cruz for daring to say (in the course of over 20 hours of speaking!) that people slow to battle against ObamaCare were like those who appeased the Nazis in the Forties.
For the record, Cruz was very specific about the analogy he made: “Look, we saw in Britain Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, ‘Accept the Nazis. Yes, they’ll dominate the continent of Europe, but that’s not our problem. Let’s appease them. Why? Because it can’t be done. We can’t possibly stand against them.'” Anyone who brings up anything related to the Nazis in any context is sailing around the edge of a mighty big storm, but Cruz was talking about appeasement and shirking from difficult battles – he also mentioned those who felt the British were unbeatable in the Revolution. He wasn’t comparing anyone to a Nazi. And in any event, this was only one thing Cruz said during many hours of holding the floor.
Here’s McCain lurching forward to stab Cruz in the back:
“I think it’s a disservice to those who stood up and shouted, at the top of their lungs, that we cannot appease, that we must act,” said McCain. How so? Cruz explicitly was not talking about them. He was talking about the people who didn’t do that kind of shouting. And I sure as hell don’t see John McCain shouting that we cannot appease ObamaCare and must act, which is exactly the point Ted Cruz was making.
There are plenty of internal disputes among Democrats, and of course the media works hard to paper over the worst of them, but you just don’t see them going after each other with hammer and tongs like this, not at a pivotal moment when all eyes are fixed on a member of the party. They don’t blow whistles on each other and throw rhetorical penalty flags immediately, the way McCain is doing here. There is often subtle sabotage between top Democrats who are jockeying for leadership positions or presidential nominations, but they don’t rush forward to hammer each other with “how dare you?” outrage in public, while national attention is still held by a huge event. They tend to control their urges to settle personal feuds on the public stage much better than John McCain.
McCain is generally willing to be the servant of the system people like Ted Cruz are fighting, whatever his nominal party affiliation. He’s egotistical and loves his “maverick” reputation, and he’s always been interested in cultivating Big Media approval. It looks like he didn’t lose that appetite when his old media pals turned on him in 2008, to his evident surprise. He’s talking about retiring soon, and he wants those Paper of Record encomiums far more than he wants a bloody nose and bruised knuckles from fighting the dominant Democrat political culture, so he once again made himself… useful.