In the early morning hours of July 28th, Senator John McCain came through in the clutch.
On one of the most important votes of his long career, he parted ways with his caucus and cast a vote against an evil, hyper-partisan bill that would have removed access to health care from millions of Americans. I give McCain great credit for having the courage to do so.
One GOP pundit accused McCain of “betraying his party,” but if his vote reflected a lack of partisan fealty, it was cast in service to the country.
I couldn't help but wonder if he would have cast that same vote had he not recently been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. No doubt that harsh reality brought a measure of clarity and girded conviction.
But whatever the reason he ultimately cast his vote in the negative, McCain stepped up when it mattered most and for that we can be grateful.
John McCain was joined in his opposition by two other Republican senators, Collins of Maine and Murkowski of Alaska. One of the least effective ways to persuade someone to vote a certain way is to bully her. Collins and Murkowski wouldn't be bullied -- not by the White House or McConnell, or other members of the senate GOP caucus. I applaud them as well.
For those who say there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, I would urge them to reflect on the comments made by the majority leader and minority leader after the final tally was announced.
McConnell's remarks once again showed him to be a petty partisan who, despite his majority, could not marshal a majority and who, true to form, blamed Democrats. His comments were snide and decidedly uncivil. While speaking, McConnell pointedly turned his back on his Democratic colleagues, just as he had excluded them from the deliberative process.
By contrast, Chuck Schumer was a gracious winner who used the moment not to take a victory lap but to express relief. His comments were constructive and forward looking. His focus was on doing what's right for the American people. We can be proud of his leadership and that of the members of the Democratic caucus.
The president has already begun to attack the three Republican "mavericks" who broke with their party to do what McCain said was “the right thing.” How very short-sighted. I expect this won't be the last time Collins, Murkowski, and McCain will have occasion to show their independence. And the more Trump berates them the more likely they are to do so.
Now, for a few brief moments, we can exhale.