The Odd Psychology of John McCain

What's up with McCain and DADT?

Dana Milbank observes:

McCainologists in the Capitol speculate that on this and other issues he’s driven less by policy consideration than by personal animosity. A decade ago, his antipathy toward President George W. Bush led him to seek common cause with Democrats to thwart a Republican president. Now his antipathy toward President Obama has made him a leading Republican hardliner.

Watching McCain over the last decade leads one has to say that Milbank seems to have a point, as McCain’s persona during that period of time has fluctuated, and it does seem that reactions to the persons to whom he lost presidential contests influence his behavior.

What would be especially interesting would be to do an actual analysis of McCain’s votes over his career to test if, in fact, the behavior goes beyond simple optics.

Regardless of any of that, his behavior on DADT has been truly bizarre.  At a minimum he has moved the goalposts multiple times.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, National Security, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Eric Florack says:

    Now his antipathy toward President Obama has made him a leading Republican hardliner.

    Next to Obama, about anyone would be considered a hardliner.
    That said, I have long since begun to suspect McCain to be interested in bettering his own position, and little more. Thus my begrudging support of him for the White House.

  2. Tano says:

    Not just on DADT, of course. He was an original sponsor of the DREAM act, which he helped defeat today. Yeah, he sure seems to have put America second, behind working through his own psychodrama…

  3. anjin-san says:

    > Thus my begrudging support of him for the White House.

    Of course some of us remember you slavishly reposting Steve Schmidt’s 11th hour desperation press releases for McCain as if they were the wisdom of the universe, all the while patting yourself on the back for having “special insider information” that mere mortals did not have access to. My personal favorite was the one about how the surging McCain might even win Pennsylvania.

  4. Maybe McCain is just a garden variety asshole?

  5. Tlaloc says:

    “Next to Obama, about anyone would be considered a hardliner.”

    Your head would explode if I were to explain to you how I’d change things, then. Obama has been making common cause for the last two years with the republicans, it’s just that they get more political cause out of treating him like, and calling him, the antichrist. Most of what he has passed and pushed for came from the GOP origianlly.

    He expanded the war in Afghanistan.
    He stuck to Bush’s timetable fro pulling out of Iraq.
    His health reform bill was originally the GOP bill.
    The GOP was originally completely opposed to DADT.
    Obama has been harder on illegal immigrants than Bush ever was.
    He froze federal worker pay and worked to reduce the estate tax, both GOP ideas.
    Which is to say nothing of the stimulus which he larded up with some 28-36% tax cuts to appease the GOP, despite the fact that they are counter productive when trying to actually stimulate demand.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Eric:

    I mean this as a sincere question: how are you this stupid?

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Reynold, so to be stupid one has to hold an opinion you disagree with? Where did you find the oricle of correctness? You are just someone who never outgrew the ignorance of their youth. A one trick pony who somehow believes Marx, Stalin and Mao had it right. What you fail to understand is you would have been pulling the plow not guiding it.
    McCain opposes DADT probably because he has something most here do not have. Military experience. We don’t allow men to shower with women in the military for obvious reasons. With the passage of this law, you are going to let men who are attracted to men shower with those to which they are attracted. There will be far fewer enlistments and a hell of a lot of broken noses. You are not dealing with mature adults but people barely out of their teens. I see this lasting a very short time.

  8. Trueofvoice says:

    Actually Zelsdorf, your fantasy about boken noses and widespread anti-gay violence ensuing over the next few years illustrates your lack of understanding in regards to how the military works. Being a soldier is, above all, about discipline. Anyone who can’t summon the minimal discipline to leave a gay soldier alone doesn’t belong in the uniform anyway.

  9. Eric Florack says:

    Your head would explode if I were to explain to you how I’d change things, then. Obama has been making common cause for the last two years with the republicans, it’s just that they get more political cause out of treating him like, and calling him, the antichrist. Most of what he has passed and pushed for came from the GOP origianlly.

    Trust me; the concept that you’re a radical leftist is hardly new to me… or I suspect, to most..

    He expanded the war in Afghanistan.

    Funny thing; he said he’d do that during the election. Didn’t you notice?

    For all of his faults, Obama seems to be able to react to reality occasionally… a trait you apparently have problems with.

    He stuck to Bush’s timetable fro pulling out of Iraq.

    Exactly as I predicted he would, because he could do little else. http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/will-obamas-anti-terror-policies-vindicate-bush/

    His health reform bill was originally the GOP bill.

    That bill reflects at attitude… that attitude was exactly why the GOP lost the majority, and the White House.

    The GOP was originally completely opposed to DADT.

    I suppose and expect the reasoning for that opposition was different from your own.

    Obama has been harder on illegal immigrants than Bush ever was.

    So what was DREAM, anyway? Are we truly expected to believe that your argument is to be that the democrats are racist? That Barry is a racist? That would be the first thing out of your mouth in the case of republicans doing exactly the same thing , I suspect.

    He froze federal worker pay and worked to reduce the estate tax, both GOP ideas.

    With Federal worker pay already had many times what private sector workers are making, (private sector workers, you know all those guys that actually pay the Federal workers? ) Very little else could be done. Even somebody is fundamentally stupid as Obama can figure it out. Why can’t you?

  10. tom p says:

    >”With the passage of this law, you are going to let men who are attracted to men shower with those to which they are attracted.”

    ZRIII: Just to point out the utter stupidity of your above statement… They Already DO shower together. DADT was never about dis-allowing the shower fantasy, it was about sticking one’s head in the sand and pretending it wasn’t actually already happening.

  11. anjin-san says:

    As for McCain, I think bitterness is eating him up. Bush fvcked him over in 2000, and he pretty much had to kiss Bush’s ass for 8 years in spite of that. In 2008, he figured it was his turn, and then he lost to a kid who came out of nowhere. He’s also enough of a pro to know he blew it in ’08, but not a big enough man to simply come to terms with his own shortcomings and move on. You can probably add a lot of misdirected anger to the already serious rage issues he has exhibited.

    It is worth noting that it is probably normal someone who has suffered as he has to have rage issues. The sad thing is that he has (apparently) not been able to get help with them. McCain is a tragic figure. I respect what he has done in the service of our country, but I have no respect for the man he is today.

  12. Davebo says:

    “McCain is a tragic figure. I respect what he has done in the service of our country, but I have no respect for the man he is today.”

    I guess I have some respect for his service as well. But we’d be up by 5 aircraft right now had his father not shepherded him through the Naval Academy on a gold plated admission to nowhere.

    McCain’s biggest military achievement was a combination of nepotism and utter incompetence as a pilot resulting, predictably, in his capture.

  13. narciso says:

    You know that Schmidt had quit the campaign by the end of September, right, and the only trace of an effort was that by the one you deride so thoroughly, who sadly was very prescient about what Obama would bring,

  14. anjin-san says:

    > who sadly was very prescient about what Obama would bring,

    What did Obama bring? Aside from bringing back the economy from the brink of a full blow depression, which was were the last GOP administration left it.

    You guys can continue to blame the fact the ship is taking on water on the damage control team if you want… it has to be easier than admitting that you cheered yourself hoarse while the previous captain was setting course for that iceberg…

  15. Franklin says:

    But we’d be up by 5 aircraft right now had his father not shepherded him through the Naval Academy on a gold plated admission to nowhere.

    I remember reading about each of these. Really, McCain was probably only responsible for one definitely, with a question mark over another. Still, I find it in poor taste to pile onto somebody who went through what he went through. Period.

  16. Raoul says:

    McCain proved himself unstable in the campaign- remember the suspension? his Palin deliberations- his weird debates? This behavior has been standard since the beginning- if one had voted for him he or she should keep the support quiet as his instability may wash over one, but we knew that about E.

  17. anjin-san says:

    His reaction shots during the debates were certainly something. We watched one of them in a bar where we could not hear what they were saying, and it was pretty amazing just to watch his face. I was sure then and there that Obama would win.

  18. I remember reading about each of these. Really, McCain was probably only responsible for one definitely, with a question mark over another. Still, I find it in poor taste to pile onto somebody who went through what he went through. Period.

    Then ignore that and instead focus on his serial adultery and his abandonment of his first wife while she was in the hospital and possibly dying.

    Neither does what he went through serve as a blank check for a subsequent lifetime of vile behavior.