John McCain got a hero's welcome on Tuesday when he returned to the floor of the Senate to cast a crucial vote to allow Republicans to take up health care reform. His colleagues gave him a standing ovation, given that he'd received a diagnosis of brain cancer less than two weeks earlier, and the speech he gave exhorting the Senate to be better has won praise. His home-state Arizona Republic, for instance, editorialized that it was of "such striding ambition it sought to change the course of our national politics." Among other things, McCain implored his fellow senators to work together across party lines, ignore "bombastic loudmouths," and "return to regular order." It was heady stuff, but at the New Yorker, John Cassidy sees a fundamental contradiction within it.
For starters, he wonders, why on earth did McCain return to deliver it? By doing so, he allowed Mitch McConnell to proceed with a bill that has been jammed through with no hint of the "regular order" McCain talks about. It had no hearings and zero input from Democrats. And now the end game appears to be get something, anything, passed so that Republicans from the House and Senate can then get together in secrecy to fashion a final version. McCain failed to take his own advice. "For his long record of service to the country, his bravery, and his acerbic streak, McCain is himself widely revered," writes Cassidy. "It is a great pity, indeed a tragedy, that he and many other Republican senators didn't act upon his words." Click for the full column, or read the full editorial. (Read more John McCain stories.)