WASHINGTON, July 20, 2015 – Republican presidential contender Donald Trump finds himself in the middle of another manufactured controversy. It seems he is not cowed by veteran GOP Senator John McCain’s tenure in a North Vietnamese prison camp.
“I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump quipped at a gathering of the Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa.
Those are fighting words for a mainstream media deeply in love with John McCain.
You may recall that the New York Times endorsed McCain in the Empire State’s Republican presidential primary of 2008, praising the Arizonan’s “record of working across the aisle to develop sound bipartisan legislation” and saying he “would offer a choice to a broader range of Americans than the rest of the Republican field.” The Times went on to describe conservatives unwilling to vote for the GOP’s marshmallow mush as a “small, angry fringe.”
Whatever one thinks of his war record, McCain has been a perpetual champion of big government in Washington and an uninspiring GOP presidential loser.
But three subjects that manage to stir the small, angry fringe of McCain’s psyche – tea party conservatism, opposition to crony-capitalist immigration reform and attacks on his fading reputation.
When The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza recently popped into McCain’s Senate office to get his reaction to a recent Trump campaign rally in Phoenix, McCain was less than pleased.
“It’s very bad,” McCain said through his customary clenched teeth. “This performance with our friend out in Phoenix is very hurtful to me, because what he did was he fired up the crazies.”
By “crazies” McCain means the growing number of Copper State conservatives who are finally fed up with his big-government voting record and his championing of immigration policies that encourage wave upon wave of illegal immigration.
Last year, the Maricopa County Republican Party censured McCain for the “disastrous and harmful” effect his liberal record has on the “state and nation.”
“While McCain is a political star on the national stage,” said the Arizona Republic, “for years he has had to contend with vocal critics in his home state, who accused him of betraying the Grand Old Party’s [small government] principles.”
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Since McCain has announced he will run for re-election in 2016, “his political team is engaging in an aggressive and systematic campaign to reshape the state GOP apparatus by ridding it of conservative firebrands and replacing them with steadfast allies,” said POLITICO.
McCain was hoping all the bad feelings generated by his heavy-handed Stalinist purge of Arizona’s Republican Party would be water under the bridge by the time 2016 rolled around. And then Trump set himself apart from the nearly two dozen GOP presidential candidates on the single issue of illegal immigration.
As a member of the Senate’s “Gang of 8,” which sought to craft bipartisan legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration system – that failed to gain public support – Trump’s immigration stance now threatens to rekindle old animosities between McCain and Arizona’s voting Republicans.
“Illegal immigrants should never be able to become citizens and vote,” said an angry constituent at a McCain town hall meeting in 2013. “They mow our lawns, they care for our babies… that’s what those people do,” McCain responded, according to CNN.
McCain clearly insists Latin illegal “dreamers,” well, dream small.
McCain is a desperate political dinosaur whose military record is no more relevant to men like Donald Trump than it is to the foreign invaders whose votes McCain would curry.
At long last, he will have to stand or fall on his dismal political record. And so, it’s time McCain stops waving the bloody shirt.