Washington Matters


McCain's Triumphant Return...to the Senate


It's not where he preferred to be, but John McCain will find life back in the Senate not all bad. He may even find happiness returning to his maverick tendencies. He may even find new ways to work with Democrats.

Often times a losing presidential candidate returns to his old job a bit downcast and under a dreary cloud. It was true with John Kerry in 2005 after a bruising loss to President Bush. Kerry often walked the halls alone and was sometimes treated almost like a pariah by others who felt he ran a poor presidential campaign. Kerry slowly got back to feeling comfortable in the Senate, but it took some time. 

That won't be the case with McCain, who may even relish the rest of his Senate career and the liberty it provides him to chart a maverick course. He doesn't have to worry anymore about pleasing the conservative base as he had to do the last eight years. 

McCain has a history of consensus building on issues such as campaign finance, telecommunications and judicial nominations. There's a good chance he and Hillary Clinton, a Senate friend, will team up on climate change, green tech research, job retraining and possibly even health care. (McCain knows his own health care tax credit plan is dead anyhow. He may work to build a consensus alternative with Clinton and possibly Kennedy)

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He also doesn't hold grudges for long. In the 1980s and 1990s when his attempts at campaign finance reform failed and failed again for years before passing, he was usually upset about it for only a few days before moving on. 

One big question. Will McCain vote for middle class tax relief if it raises taxes on the wealthiest, as President-elect Obama has proposed? I bet he does, even if he takes some hits for reversing himself from his presidential campaign. McCain originally opposed the Bush tax cuts saying they were skewed too heavily to the rich. With middle class tax cuts, he can say any tax cut is a good tax cut and the wealthiest can handle a little sacrifice.

As ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, McCain will have a large hand in crafting defense policy and budgets, and his counsel will be valued highly on course changes in the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He'll sound alarms against a sharp drawdown in Iraq.

Will he run again for the Senate in 2010? He may well. He'd be 74. That's not old for the Senate.

 




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