I’m certainly not the only one making this observation today, but I just wanted to be among the many lending their voice to this particular choir: Spare me the hallelujahs that are being lobbed at Senator John McCain, will you? Yes, we’re all so very pleased he somehow grew a new conscience, and we’re so very, very glad he voted “No” on the stupid “skinny repeal” idea the Republicans were trying to ram through, but he’s not a hero in all of this, Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine are, and they deserve all the credit in the world for doing what over 45 other Republicans couldn’t do — grow a spine and stop letting Mitch McConnell tinker and fuck with Senate rules to cajole victories from obvious defeats.
Not only did Murkowski and Collins stand up as the only two Republicans against this sham from the outset, voting against even bringing the shit show to the floor, Murkowski might have earned a lifetime achievement award. It would appear that she was able to sit with McCain and convince him to vote along with herself and Collins. Charlie Pierce wrote about it in his latest piece in Esquire.
That was when Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, did a very smart thing. She walked over to McCain and talked to him for a good 45 minutes, essentially boxing everyone out, even Pence, who tried his best. (source)
Don’t get me wrong. McCain deserves, in my opinion anyway, plaudits and thank yous from the rest of us. He deserves to be recognized for doing the right thing. But let’s hold off on much more than that. Let’s cancel the balloons and cake and band. Let’s remember some things about John, before we anoint him the savior of humanity, shall we?
Let’s remember that he could have had this very same moment a couple days ago. All he had to do was gambol down into the Senate chamber when the motion to proceed to debate was called to the floor. Instead of coming in and voting to open debate, followed by a pious but ultimately hypocritical speech about returning to the “regular order” that McCain actually pissed on by lending credence to McConnell’s machinations in the first place, he could have just not fucking voted. He chose instead to move debate forward, knowing that the bills he was decrying could easily become law.
It’s not that Murkowski and Collins aren’t also going to work hard to make our tax code favor the rich. It’s not like they’re giving up on every gross Republican policy idea, and it’s not like they won’t vote in lock step with their party again, but last night they transcended party politics, stuck their guns, and struck a massive blow against Donald Trump. If you think that it didn’t give Murkowski extra glee to stick it to Don after he had his Interior Secretary try to threaten her entire state, you’re not seeing things clearly.
When McCain reminded his Republican colleagues the other day that they aren’t supposed to be the willing tools of their president, it seems the only two people who didn’t need that pep talk were Murkowski and Collins. McCain’s good buddy Lindsey Graham, despite holding press conferences lambasting the skinny repeal, and echoing similar sentiments as McCain did about needing to not be a rubber stamp for the president, still voted in lock step with his party every single time.
RELATED: Bigots Also Said We Couldn’t Let Blacks Into the Military Because It Wasn’t a “Social Experiment”
From the sound of Mitch McConnell’s stunned speech after he and his team failed last night, it seems that the GOP is now going to turn their sites on tax reform. It’s a subject that will probably have less internal strife than healthcare. But until then, and until Murkowski and Collins give us a reason to be mad at them and their silly Republican ideas again, maybe liberals across this country should drop a line to them, and thank them.
I know it sounds crazy, thanking Republicans. But you know, there was a time when that was something liberals did all the time. Republican kids made up big portions of the Freedom Riders who were going around the south, risking their lives to register black people to vote. Republicans were the reason we had official amendments to abolish slavery and force state governments to treat everyone equally. The truth is that a lot of what we hold dear about our government on the left was made possible by Republicans of yore.
For the last…forever…I’ve lamented the lack of sane, rationale Republicans in the world. Last night, very briefly perhaps, two Republicans proved themselves to be the pragmatic legislators we’ve all be hoping would return to the Grand Old Party. Murkowski and Collins — not John McCain — deserve credit for doing at least their own, small parts for bringing a little dignity and common sense back to our political landscape.
If you tweet your thanks to them, make sure you also tag Donald Trump’s account too. Never pass up a chance to stick your finger in that pudgy fascist’s eye.