Say what you will about his health, but the Senator from Arizona certainly has not forgotten why it is that he loathes President Trump. Yes, some of it stems back during the campaign when Trump mocked McCain for being captured as a POW. However, McCain has a streak of simply refusing to be told what to do, especially by his own party. He played the thorn in the side of George W. Bush just like he is playing the thorn in the side of Donald Trump.
McCain was honored with the Liberty Medal, an award bestowed by the National Constitution Center, and in his acceptance speech, he spent a lot of time dealing with Trump, though not by name. NPR reports:
In what appeared to be a thinly veiled reference to politics in the Age of Trump, Sen. John McCain on Monday warned Americans against “half-baked, spurious nationalism,” calling the abandonment of U.S. global leadership “unpatriotic.”
Speaking in Philadelphia, where he was being honored with the Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center, McCain did not mention the president by name, but his words appeared aimed at Trump and his administration.
“To abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems,” he said, “is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”
In an apparent reference to white supremacists who sparked violence in Charlottesville, Va., in August, the former prisoner of war said: “We live in a land of ideals, not blood and soil.”
The Nazi slogan “blood and soil” was shouted by tiki-torch-wielding white supremacists in Charlottesville.
“We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad,” he said. “We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did.”
McCain was the nail in the coffin of the Senate’s ObamaCare repeal bill. The bill wasn’t that great anyway, but Trump was looking for a legislative win. McCain made it back to the Senate floor to give his thumbs down on the bill despite objections from Trump and most of his Senate colleagues. Similarly, he is now expressing doubt that he will support the tax reform effort.
McCain was also outspoken back in February on the issue of the travel ban, according to NY Mag:
“Some people are saying you’re Trump’s No. 1 nemesis,” a reporter said. “Is that the role you’re trying to stake out?”
McCain shook his head. “It’s very convenient for the media to say that,” he grumbled. “If interpreters who worked for us in Iraq are not allowed into the United States, then I’m going to speak up. If that makes me a nemesis of the president of the United States, then you can label me as such.”
McCain is McCain. He’s earned praise for it from other political enemies of the White House who see him as their chance to slow down the Trump Train. For example, late-night TV host Kimmy Kimmel thanked McCain by name for voting down the recent ObamaCare repeal bill in the Senate:
Thank you @SenJohnMcCain for being a hero again and again and now AGAIN
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) September 22, 2017
As much as Trump lives for being the “winner,” McCain lives for being the “maverick.” And clearly that title and desire won’t stop until he’s no longer in the Senate, but he’s not worried about that for the time being.