Apparently to make up for his unusual absence from this weekend’s Sunday talkfests, John McCain is profiled today by Politico, which muses about his reinvention as a knee-jerk Republican partisan:
For years, McCain relished being an outsider and a maverick, a style that often led to battles with his own party’s leadership. Today, for reasons that friends and McCain observers say could range from unresolved anger to concern for his right flank as he seeks re-election to genuine dismay about Obama’s agenda, he is helping lead a fiery crusade of GOP loyalists against Democratic priorities…
Democrats argue that McCain has marched to the right, pointing to his opposition to Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court after years of trying to avoid battles on judicial nominations; his damaging criticism of the Democrats’ climate change plans when he was an early supporter of cap-and-trade legislation; his attacks on AARP when he actively sought the powerful lobby’s support in the 2008 campaign.
… there was speculation that the post-presidential McCain would return to the Senate and emerge as an Obama ally, the latest turn in his “Country First” narrative going something like this: White House dreams dashed, the grizzled old politician yet again puts service over self, patriotism over party and joins with the new young president to guide America through a crisis.
It seems clear, though, that winning another Profile in Courage Award and the approval of elites by following such a course is not what McCain has in mind.
Of course, McCain is hardly losing “the approval of elites,” nor does he have any reason to fear that happening, if his near-omnipresence on TV’s political gabfests is any indication. Instead, he’s seeking what he’s consistently sought over the past couple of decades — attention.
And Christina Bellantoni at TPM has a story this morning explaining why the GOP has adopted a conscious strategy of encouraging him, making him “the front man” in opposing Democratic healthcare reform efforts:
A Republican staffer who worked for McCain in 2008 said the party spent “millions of dollars bolstering his national image,” so it makes sense for him to be the go-to guy.
“Does anyone know who Mitch McConnell is?” the staffer asked.
This, by the way, would be the same conscious strategy that Politico is doing its small part to boost by treating McCain’s “emergence” as an Obama critic as an objective news story. But I suppose that’s no surprise, either.