The U.S. Senate rejected a Republican measure to repeal portions of former President Obama’s health care reform law. Republicans John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins joined the Democrats in voting down the measure, 49-51. (July 28)
Each week, USA TODAY’s OnPolitics blog takes a look at how media from the left and the right reacted to a political news story, giving liberals and conservatives a peek into the other’s media bubble.
This week, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., managed to upset both liberals and conservatives with his dramatic return to the Capitol from cancer treatment in order to vote on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. McCain initially drew praise from conservatives when he arrived Tuesday and voted in favor of a motion to proceed on debating legislation. That vote enraged liberals, who said McCain had returned to rob health care from millions. He then infuriated the right-wing by casting the deciding vote against a “skinny repeal” early Friday. That vote failed to win over liberals, however, who thought Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins were the real heroes.
Last week: Health care fail has conservatives calling for McConnell’s head
From the left: McCain is the Senate’s biggest fraud
Liberal commentators began hurling venom at McCain Tuesday after he voted for the motion to proceed. They assailed him as a fraud and hypocrite.
“McCain, that rascally maverick, flew into the upper chamber to vote on a motion to allow debate on his party’s health care nightmare, despite being diagnosed with brain cancer only a few days ago,” Sarah Jones wrote for the New Republic after Tuesday’s vote. “He then had the gall to crown this reckless, horrible move—one that upends years of precedent in the Senate—with some Sorkin-esque pablum condemning the Senate for turning its back on the democratic process and calling for a return to regular order.”
McCain has performed this gross two-step throughout his recent career, taking the high road in his rhetoric while going along with his party on whatever depraved route they take. He is not a maverick; he is a conventional Republican through and through.
From the right: ‘John McCain came out of the political closet’
Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes directed his ire for the failed healthcare vote directly at McCain.
“The only reason he flew back to Washington, D.C., was to stick it to the American people,” Starnes said. “You see, I always knew this guy was a closet Democrat. Last night, John McCain came out of the political closet.”
Sen. MCain has built a reputation over the years for insulting his opponents. He gets pretty nasty sometimes. Just the other day, he called talk radio hosts bombastic loudmouths. He once called his conservative colleagues like Ted Cruz “wacko birds.” He even went after Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and Evangelical leaders. He called them agents of intolerance. Well, if it’s all the same to you, ladies and gentlemen, I’d rather be a bombastic, intolerant wacko bird than a backstabbing liar.
From the left: Dems and GOP women saved ACA, not McCain
Several progressive pundits and commentators were annoyed that McCain was getting the lion’s share of credit in the news media for the failure of the Republican repeal effort. They felt Murkowski and Collins were the ones who deserved praise for killing the bill.
Jezebel’s Prachi Gupta said there would not have been a vote at all on the repeal if McCain had voted with Murkowski and Collins to block Tuesday’s motion to proceed.
“Thanks to his vote in support of this atrocious measure, Congress spent a week playing Russian Roulette with millions of people’s access to healthcare,” Gupta wrote.
“It is also frustrating to see McCain reap the adoration when both Murkowski and Collins have been consistently bullied by their own party throughout this process,” she said.
From the right: McCain ‘let his country down’
Former Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly said it was “deeply surprising” that McCain “cast the deciding vote to kill health care reform.”
“So, Obamacare lives on in full thanks to John McCain, and the Democratic Party wins a major victory,” O’Reilly wrote in a column. “I have known Senator McCain for decades and respect him. But on a bill that would have diminished the failure of Obamacare, he let his country down.”
From the left: McCain ‘isn’t a hero for not killing his constituents’
“If you want to laud Senator John McCain for his military service, or for his occasional high-profile stabs at bipartisanship, feel free,” wrote The Nation‘s Joshua Holland. “But it didn’t take a lick of courage to vote against an ACA repeal bill that was supported by fewer than 20 percent of the electorate, and which would have killed off some unknown number of his constituents if it passed.”
It isn’t “mavericky” to fly into the capital on Tuesday to offer the deciding vote to take up a series of bills that would have stripped insurance coverage from between 16 and 23 million people, only to grab the spotlight with a no vote two nights later during the final, decidedly operatic act.
From the right: ‘McCain voted against bipartisanship, not for it’
Breitbart editor Joel Pollak took issue with McCain’s claim that his vote against the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare was a vote for bipartisanship.
“In fact, it was the opposite, rewarding Democrats for passing Obamacare without working with Republicans in the first place, allowing them to establish a beachhead for government-run health care, which they will now be able to protect,” wrote Pollak.
Pollak also disagreed with McCain’s feeling that Democrats were left out of the process.
“Throughout the past seven months, Democrats had every opportunity to propose improvements to Obamacare,” Pollak wrote. “They had the same opportunity for the past seven years.”
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