Fri Feb 15, 2013, 09:49 PM
WillyT (66,026 posts)
John McCain On Senate Comity... Lets Go To The WayBack Machine Shall We ???
Evan Thomas - DalyBeats
Feb 20, 2000 7:00 PM EST
Of the 55 republicans in the U.S. Senate, only four support John McCain for president. Most of the rest--39 in all, with two more signing on last week--back George W. Bush. Why can't McCain win the votes of his own colleagues? To explain, a Republican senator tells this story: at a GOP meeting last fall, McCain erupted out of the blue at the respected Budget Committee chairman, Pete Domenici, saying, "Only an a--hole would put together a budget like this." Offended, Domenici stood up and gave a dignified, restrained speech about how in all his years in the Senate, through many heated debates, no one had ever called him that. Another senator might have taken the moment to check his temper. But McCain went on: "I wouldn't call you an a--hole unless you really were an a--hole." The Republican senator witnessing the scene had considered supporting McCain for president, but changed his mind. "I decided," the senator told NEWSWEEK, "I didn't want this guy anywhere near a trigger."
Domenici softened the story, denying that McCain had used the word "a--hole." But one of McCain's own aides ruefully said with a laugh, "He may have used stronger language." McCain's reputation as a hothead in the Senate is well established. Last week GOP senators were furiously spinning to reporters--off the record, as usual--that their colleague from Arizona is too impatient and impetuous to be president. They argued that he would divide the Republican Party and, if elected, fail to motivate lawmakers to enact his agenda. McCain's loyal band of congressional defenders scoffed at this line of argument. "He's not running for Senate majority leader, he's running for president as a reformer," said Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat and fellow Vietnam veteran. "Lots of presidents have a temper. Sometimes Congress needs a swift kick."
McCain has avoided harsh media scrutiny, and some senators are just plain jealous of his friendly relations with reporters. "He says things that would get us headlines, but he gets a freebie," groused one lawmaker. Nonetheless, McCain's temperament is a campaign issue that remains to be explored. His 13 years in the U.S. Senate provide a revealing template for assessing McCain's ability to deal with others. The insurgent candidate can be winning when he wants to be, but he does not suffer fools--and the fact that senators can behave foolishly is not a complete defense for a style that can be a little too blunt.
To a certain and necessary degree, the U.S. Senate is built on insincerity and artifice. The elaborate rituals of senatorial courtesy help to paper over regional and ideological differences and soothe competing egos. McCain, however, has no patience with pretense, nor does he claim to. Senators are not used to having their intelligence or integrity challenged by another senator. "Are you calling me stupid?" Sen. Chuck Grassley once inquired during a debate with McCain over the fate of the Vietnam MIAs, according to a source who was present. "No," replied McCain, "I'm calling you a f---ing jerk!" (Grassley and McCain had no comment.)
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