Doyle McManus sounds a bit smitten with John McCain and his possible role as Maverick Republican© standing up to Big Bad Trump (“Will John McCain lead the loyal opposition?” LA Times, 2/1/2017):
The conservative senator from Arizona has warned President Trump against cozying up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin (“a thug”). He’s criticized Trump’s order banning U.S. entry to people from seven mostly-Muslim countries (“harmful”). He’s denounced Trump’s decision to withdraw from a trade deal with Asia (“a serious mistake”) and his proposal to tax imports from Mexico (“insane”).
That’s not all. Asked about Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. resume using torture on suspected terrorists, he said: “I don’t give a damn what the president of the United States wants to do. We will not torture.… The law is the law.”
The law being the law, it’s funny McCain doesn’t have any problems with Trump using the office to personally enrich himself and his family.
That’s because McCain, if he winds up doing anything, won’t actually do anything that can be construed as totally going against Trump. McManus admits as much:
If the Republican establishment decides to push back, it probably won’t take the form of open rebellion. It will look more like guerrilla warfare, with lawmakers doing tax reform and Obamacare their way, not Trump’s, and slow-walking proposals they dislike (a costly infrastructure plan, for example).
Whoa! Modifying Trump’s proposals for tax reform? What radical opponents!
That’s not opposition. That’s an attempt to mollify Trump to their liking, exactly what a lot of Republicans thought was going to be easier to do than has so far turned out. It’s not even that Republicans disagree with Trump’s ideas; they just think his presentation is sometimes crass. Jonah Goldberg says so in an article at the National Review:
By now you may have noticed the difficulty many conservatives have defending everything President Trump does and says. I’m not just referring to the big policy moves, most of which conservatives can support fairly easily (so far). I mean the whole whiplash-inducing spectacle: the unfiltered, impulsive tweeting, bizarre interview non sequiturs, glib insults, and distractions.
Emphasis mine. Republicans want to defend everything Trump does and says, but gosh darn it, some of it is just so dang silly!
Where do people get this idea that McCain has a backbone or abides by any sincerely-held principles? I know, I know; his war record. But he wound up endorsing Trump once he got the nomination in spite of Trump questioning that war record (McCain later withdrew his endorsement in light of “pussygate”). Remember this?:
Trump’s seeming mockery of McCain’s military record immediately drew nearly immediate public condemnation from some of his fellow GOP candidates, many of whom had just finished criticizing him for calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and criminals.
“Donald Trump should apologize immediately for attacking Senator McCain and all veterans who have protected and served our country,” former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement, which also mentioned that Trump has not served in the military. “His attack on veterans make him unfit to be commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, and he should immediately withdraw from the race for president.”
McCain will not lead any kind of real opposition. He, along with other Republican senators, confirmed Jeff Sessions for Attorney General and Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. And he’ll vote affirmatively for Trump’s other picks. And he, along with the Republican-controlled congress and soon-to-be conservative-controlled Supreme Court, will ram through their ultraconservative agenda, doing their best to dangle shiny objects in front of Trump long enough to get him to sign the bills he hasn’t read that are put in front of him. Some opposition that’ll be.