How John McCain Got His Groove BackI know I frequently express concern that Democrats could blow it in upcoming electoral cycles, but there's a real possibility that Republicans are headed toward another 1964, with a Ted Cruz/Ben Carson ticket going down to a huge defeat, possibly after a government shutdown this year leads to significant GOP losses in the 2014 midterms. I may be a pessimist, but even I can see that disaster just might be looming for a Republican Party gone crazy.
All of a sudden, Sen. John McCain matters again.
It's not like he disappeared. But after being sidelined for a time by his 2008 defeat in the presidential election against Barack Obama, the Arizona Republican has re-emerged as one of Obama's most important allies in the Senate.
McCain took the lead in crafting immigration legislation that passed the Senate in June. Last month, he came up with the deal that prevented the Senate from abolishing judicial filibusters, allowing several Obama Cabinet and agency nominees to win confirmation.
With GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Whip John Cornyn of Texas both nervous that working with Democrats might hurt their re-election chances next year, McCain has suddenly stepped up as the most important Republican Obama can do business with.
"It's fascinating," says Tom Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "He's back in the game -- a game he played well before he ran for the presidency -- and he's having fun."
... it's left McCain with a level of influence that's highly unusual for a former presidential nominee.
"We don't have many examples of this," says George C. Edwards III, a presidential scholar at Texas A&M University. "I don't think there's anyone who's played a role quite like McCain is playing now." ...
And yet at a time when it may be finally dawning on the Beltway that the GOP is insane, and when that insanity might be in the process of having serious negative consequences for the party, it looks as if the biggest beneficiaries are going to be ... other Republicans. Yeah, Hillary's still a rock star, but these days it's Chris Christie who sends a thrill up Beltway journalists' legs. Or, God help us, it's McCain.
It's possible that the Republican Party will be in such disarray by 2016 that Democrats will finally be on the brink of being able to govern -- for the first time since, well, the mid-1960s. And yet there will still be insider pundits arguing that, for the sake of the country, and to end this horrible era of bipartisan intransigence, Hillary ought to Johnny Mac as a running mate.