By DEXTER DUGGAN
PHOENIX — A tottering establishment does itself no good when it tries to ignore serious signs of discontent. But that’s what Arizona’s out-of-touch political class is counseling about the censures of Sen. John McCain that The Wanderer has been chronicling (on page 1 of the January 23 and February 6 issues). McCain turned stomachs here last year as radical Barack Obama’s “bromance” buddy.
On January 11, at the annual general meeting of Maricopa County’s Republican precinct committeemen, McCain was censured by an overwhelming vote of 1,150 to 351. The censure resolution, acknowledging this was a drastic step, said that “until he consistently champions our party’s platform, we, the Republican leadership in Arizona, will no longer support, campaign for, or endorse John McCain as our U.S. senator.”
Maricopa County has about 4 million of the state’s 6.5 million people, so this disavowal of McCain was a major repudiation by potential campaign help.
By the time state committeemen met on January 25, the GOP in six of Arizona’s 15 counties had censured McCain for straying from party principles. The state party leaders proceeded similarly to reject McCain by a voice vote that sounded about two-to-one against him.
Known for hotheaded responses, the defiant McCain didn’t attempt to apologize or reach any understanding or accommodation with his critics.
Instead, despite the margin of the repudiation, McCain denounced them as “a very extremist element” in the state GOP that was just stoking the fire in his belly to run for another Senate term in 2016, when he turns 80.
Arizona’s corrupt political establishment is infamous for expecting to lord it over everyone else. If you’re a left-wing Democrat like former Gov. Janet Napolitano or a liberal Republican like McCain, you’re designated a marvelous, immaculate moderate. If you’re not on board with them, you’re the fumbling “far right.”
After trying to ignore the challenge to McCain, the establishment’s leading media spokesman, The Arizona Republic, patched together one of its familiar propaganda jobs, opining that “some political experts say the five-term veteran and 2008 presidential nominee probably should just ignore the rebuke.”
The Republic turned to a favorite source for skewed comments, citing local liberal pollster Bruce Merrill as saying that “McCain’s general approach to immigration reform and border security is backed by the Arizona public.”
Merrill can’t be so out of touch as to have already forgotten McCain’s “complete the danged fence” commercial growl for his 2010 Senate re-election campaign. McCain desperately talked tough on border security for voters then while walking along for the camera with border hawk Sheriff Paul Babeu.
The Republic quoted Merrill’s well-worn type of spiel: “At some point, as a political party, the Republicans have got to decide whether they want to win elections or whether they want to continue this right-wing diatribe about some of these issues that are outside the mainstream of American politics. These guys are extreme.”
The propaganda item was headlined, “Arizona GOP censure riles McCain backers.”
Shut your mouth and tie your hands is the Republic’s overweening advice to most Arizonans most of the time.
Probably not a good idea this time around.