Washington Matters


McCain Balks at Politics as Usual -- Sides with Dems



Senators like to ponder a good bit and to talk more, which is why Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton's nomination was held up yesterday. But while Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wanted to make sure there was plenty of discussion about how to handle donations to former President Bill Clinton's charitable foundation, there was no doubt she would be confirmed. The showmanship and delay got under the skin of Sen. John McCain, the former Republican presidential nominee. He said the debate and roll call vote were a waste of time and sent the wrong message to Americans, who "want us to work together and get to work."

It was the kind of move that earned McCain his reputation as a maverick and that so often rankled fellow Republicans over the years that many were initially reluctant to back his candidacy. In this case, he was the only Republican on the floor, so when he moved for a quick vote, it  confounded Democrats managing the nomination, who could have accepted the offer and had a voice vote then and there. ABC News' The Note says Sen. John Kerry, not wanting to get things off to a bad start with the minority party, asked McCain to check with GOP colleagues off the floor whether they objected. They did and some returned to continue debate, and afterwards was Clinton easily confirmed.

Even if McCain's motion had succeeded, it would have meant little more a few hours shaved off of Senate work for the day. But it could certainly be seen as a signal that McCain, who has met with and talked to President Obama several times since the election, meant what he said about cooperating when he could. That should give Senate Republicans pause and have them think twice before embarking on any strategy that depends upon McCain's support.



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