Wednesday, July 26, 2017


You know what happened yesterday. Charlie Pierce recounts the first part:
... the ugliest thing to witness on a very ugly day in the United States Senate was what John McCain did to what was left of his legacy as a national figure. He flew all the way across the country, leaving his high-end government healthcare behind in Arizona, in order to cast the deciding vote to allow debate on whatever ghastly critter emerges from what has been an utterly undemocratic process. He flew all the way across the country in order to facilitate the process of denying to millions of Americans the kind of medical treatment that is keeping him alive, and to do so at the behest of a president* who mocked McCain's undeniable military heroism.

... he got a standing ovation when he walked into the chamber, and that was all right, and then he cast the vote to proceed. And then, having done so, he climbed onto his high horse and delivered an address every word of which was belied by the simple "yes" he had traveled so far to cast.
Vox's Tara Golshan takes up the story:
“I will not vote for this bill as it is today,” McCain said on the Senate floor, after voting to proceed to debate “to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered.” He castigated the bill’s secretive process and called for the Senate to “return to regular order” in the Senate.

Six hours later, McCain voted for the Senate’s health care bill.

Technically he voted on a senate procedural matter — on whether or not the bill satisfied budget rules. But it was not lost on any senator on the floor Tuesday night that their vote was an yay or nay on the Better Care Reconciliation Act itself.
McCain was the deciding vote to sustain a process he railed against, then he voted to advance a bill he'd derided. The lofty country-over-party speech was contradicted by grubby party-over-country votes.

Some in the press acknowledged the contradiction. Others just ladled out praise:

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Salena Zito explained the disconnect between Donald Trump's fan base and skeptical reporters this way:
... the press takes [Trump] literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.
Zito's argument was that the Trump fan base connected with Trump at a level that was somehow deeper than literal truth -- it didn't matter whether Trump promised a wall he was unlikely to build or lied about unemployment statistics under President Obama. It didn't matter whether he'd really be able to wipe out ISIS in a couple of months or give every American better health insurance for less money. All that was emotionally true to the fans, even if it was literally false.

Well, that's how a lot of journalists approach John McCain. He's their Trump: They don't care if his deeds don't match his words. They regard his pronouncements as deeply serious -- who cares if they're literally contradicted by his acts?

You don't have to be a deplorable to be gulled by a politician who's all talk. The Trump base and the Washington press corps just have different heroes.

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