Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is an American hero. He endured horrors in North Vietnamese captivity that few of us can ever imagine. I have disagreed with him often, but never doubted his commitment to our country. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is a character out of a Tennessee Williams’ play. He would disavow any position he’s had if it got him an invite to a Sunday Show. Together, they abet the media complex’s campaign to discredit conservative principles.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’s filibuster against the nomination of John Brennan caught the nation, and the media, by surprise. It was fueled in large part by a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder stating he couldn’t “rule out” the use of drone strikes on American soil against Americans suspected of terrorist activity. Paul’s 13-hour filibuster put a klieg light on basic constitutional principles. One Democrat and 14 Republicans, including Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), joined Paul during his filibuster.
McCain and Graham not only failed to join Paul in support of foundational constitutional values; they took to the Senate floor the next day to discredit him. McCain called Paul and his supporters “wacko birds,” while Graham said their concerns over drones were “ridiculous.”
Graham had famously promised to block Brennan’s nomination unless the Obama Administration turned over more information about the terror attack in Benghazi. Paul’s filibuster, Graham contended, had turned the Brennan nomination into a “referendum” on Obama’s use of drones. As a result, he reversed course and supported Brennan. It was not a profile in courage.
While Paul was articulating constitutional principles, Graham and McCain and some of their colleagues were dinning with President Obama. It is good that elected officials get together to break bread. It also, though, provides a powerful counter-symbol to Paul’s struggles. While the nation was gripped by Paul’s effort, McCain and Graham lived in their own bubble, convinced that the obstacle to fiscal sanity was the lack of a frank discussion over dinner.
President Obama understands their position. That isn’t the issue. The issue is that he fundamentally disagrees with conservatives’ position. All the dinners in the world won’t change that. Only the will to confront his radical ambitions will allow us to reverse course. While Graham and McCain went on a date with the President, Rand Paul displayed that will. In the end, he won a concession that no one else had been able to get from the Administration.
McCain won reelection in 2010. He will be nearly 80 when he is up again for reelection in 2016. He has earned a well-deserved retirement from office. Graham is up for reelection next year. His future will soon be in the hands of voters in South Carolina.