So the Arizona Republican Party censured John McCain this past weekend. If they were hoping this would dissuade the senior senator from re-electing it may have had the opposite effect. After all, a man who withstood the Vietcong probably chuckles at the potbellies of rightward lunacy. They remind us that just because one can do something, doesn’t mean it is wise to do so. One Ted Cruz is just enough.
Still, the Censurists do speak to the long-time detachment and disregard many Republicans have for John McCain. He is at once so damn impressive yet also such a petulant ass. The kind of guy that is both a great American symbol for resilience yet also one that would yell at the construction worker he hired for not building a monument to himself fast enough.
Evidence can be found in the numbers. Despite spending some $26 million in the 2010 Republican primary against J.D. Hayworth who raised a fraction of that amount McCain only won the Republican primary by a little more than 20 points. Fast forward to 2012 when Jeff Flake and Wil Cardon spent a relatively similar amount in that U.S. Senate primary but Flake won by 50 plus points.
And this gets us to a key point. The 2012 U.S. Senate race occurred at all because Jon Kyl decided three terms was enough; that others could carry on his good work, in their own way. And Arizona would be just fine. He left at the top of the Republican Senate world, like Bobby Jones atop the golf world some 80 plus years ago. He knew when it was time to leave. He knew there was more to life than title and ego.
McCain on the other hand knows Muhammad Ali, and seems to be channeling his penchant for staying in the fight game too long. To be fair McCain’s tenacity has led to strong roles fighting for Luke Air Force Base, the Phoenix Coyotes, Arizona Cardinals, and the stadium that was necessary to land the Arizona Diamondbacks. In other words he has not been afraid to fight for what he feels is good for this state. And any elected official should be commended for taking all comers as McCain often does at town halls across Arizona. But if he does seek another term can there be any doubt that it’s more about him than anything else? That he just can’t be out of too much limelight. That someone else couldn’t step into the role and represent Arizona in their own unique way, as McCain has?
If McCain runs again he will likely win. But he will fail the recent example set by Kyl. And like the Censurists just because you can doesn’t mean you should.