The Sanctimony and Sin of G.O.P. ‘Moderates’. Krugman chronicles John McCain’s actions of the past few days.
In case you haven’t been following the story, what has been going on in the Senate these past few days is one of the most shameful episodes in that body’s history.
We don’t know yet how all this will turn out, but one thing is clear: McCain has been a crucial enabler of the Senate’s shame — and a world-class hypocrite to boot.
- On Tuesday, he cast the decisive vote allowing this whole process to proceed, with no Democratic votes. 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.
- And later that day, he voted for that very bill, even though, you guessed it, it hadn’t changed in any significant way.
- On Thursday, Senate leaders reportedly 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 McCain, declared in a press conference Thursday afternoon that they would indeed vote for this “skinny reform” — but only if assured that the House would go into conference rather than simply passing it. That is, they were willing to vote for something they know is terrible policy, as long as they were assured that it wouldn’t actually become law. The dignity of the Senate, 21st-century style.
- Credit where credit is due: two senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, have stood up against the effort to betray every promise Republicans have made — and McCain did something right in the end. But every other supposed moderate in the Senate has offered a profile in cowardice.
And the bottom line:
You might ask, why not just vote no and try to come up with actually good policy? Because, as they also know, Republicans don’t have any good policies to offer, so a bum’s rush is the only way they can pass anything. And, until that last-minute vote, McCain, who has demanded a return to “regular order” in the Senate, turns out to be perfectly willing to help the bums get rushed.