Angry Bird John McCain Can't Decide Whether He Would Back 'America-Firster' Rand Paul Over 'rock star' Hillary Clinton in 2016

Get a room! |||Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) has given an interview with The New Republic's Isaac Chotiner in which the man who coined the term "wacko birds" to describe rising GOP stars and noted interventionist-skeptics Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan) refuses to say who he'd back in a 2016 presidential election between Paul and Hillary Clinton:

IC: Given that you think things are out of control [in the Middle East], what do you make of Hillary Clinton's term as secretary of state?

JM: I think she did a fine job. She's a rock star. She has, maybe not glamour, but certainly the aura of someone widely regarded throughout the world. [...]

IC: I want to talk about the Senate. It seems to me that the GOP leadership has been frozen by Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.

JM: I am not sure if it has been frozen, but certainly there is an element in the party that has been there prior to [World War II], the isolationist, America-Firsters. Prior to World War I, it was Western senators, and then Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh, and then Taft versus Eisenhower. Even Reagan—Reagan's presidency was perfect without ever a problem [said sarcastically]—there was an isolationist wing that fought against Reagan. And now the bad economy has exacerbated what has always been out there. [...]

IC: The GOP leadership—Mitch McConnell, Minority Whip John Cornyn—is from the same states as Cruz and Paul. Is that a particular problem?

JM: Sure, yeah.

IC: When Hillary Clinton versus Rand Paul occurs in 2016, I guess you are going to have to decide who to vote for, huh?

JM: It's gonna be a tough choice [laughs].

IC: So—

JM: Let me just clarify that. I think that Rand Paul represents a segment of the GOP, just like his father. And I think he is trying to expand that, intelligently, to make it larger.

Good article! |||Whole thing here.

Two predictions: 1) McCain will clarify with a quote like "I fully expect to support my party's nominee in 2016," and 2) if that nominee is Rand Paul, McCain will give the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Why? Because the crooked-talker's final Senate term ends in 2016, which means he no longer has to pander unconvincingly to a GOP grassroots he's never liked in order to win a primary election. And his foundational ideology, learned at the breakfast table of his namesake Navy admiral father and Navy admiral grandfather, then re-invigorated in the late 1990s (after a Vietnam Syndrome interlude) with the help of his neo-conservative friends, is keeping the world safe for Democracy, and America safe from cynicism, through the exercise of maximum U.S. military might. And he has long recognized libertarianism as an explicit threat to both projects.

Here is McCain reporting proudly in his 2002 memoir Worth the Fighting For that both contenders in the 2000 GOP presidential primaries were anti-libertarian:

I welcomed a greater, if still limited, role for government in national problems, anathema to the "leave us alone" libertarian philosophy that dominated Republican debates in the 1990s. So did George W. Bush, I must add, who challenged libertarian orthodoxy with his appeal for a "compassionate conservatism." He based much of his more activist government philosophy in an expanded role for the federal government in education policy and in his support for contributions that small, faith-based organizations could make to the solution of social problems. I gave more attention to national service and to a bigger role for government as a restraining force on selfish interests that undermined national unity. But his positions did him much credit, as well they should have, and they do him much credit now as he uses his presidency to advance them.

Not quite so authoritarian. |||It's important to remember that the GOP interventionists currently gunning for Paul also do not like him because he is serious about cutting all government, not just defense. Recall that National Greatness Conservative William Kristol reacted to the sweeping Democratic victory in 2008 by warning Republicans against advocating limited-government principles in opposition to the big-government president. No really, he did

[C]onservatives should think twice before charging into battle against Obama under the banner of "small-government conservatism." It's a banner many Republicans and conservatives have rediscovered since the election and have been waving around energetically. Jeb Bush, now considering a Senate run in 2010, even went so far as to tell Politico last month, "There should not be such a thing as a big-government Republican."

Really? Jeb Bush was a successful and popular conservative governor of Florida, with tax cuts, policy reforms and privatizations of government services to show for his time in office. Still, in his two terms state spending increased over 50 percent — a rate faster than inflation plus population growth. It turns out, in the real world of Republican governance, that there aren't a whole lot of small-government Republicans. 

Neo-conservatives are big-government conservatives, period. Libertarian Republicans are the opposite. It's a stark choice, and given the depth of the interventionists' commitment to blank-check executive-branch prosecution of war and American hegemony, no one should be surprised by the burgeoning Republicans For Hillary caucus.

If all this isn't entertaining (and significant!) enough, consider a point that I tried to make the other night on All in With Chris Hayes: After two terms of Obama's Cheneyesque prosecution of the War on Terror, a Democratic Party fronted by Hillary Clinton would have zero credibility in attracting the anti-war, pro-civil liberties vote that rocketed Obama to prominence in the first place. Rand Paul in that situation would be in prime position to lure independents and disaffected Democrats into a newfangled coalition. No wonder the hawks are whipping their guns out. 

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  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    First?

  • CE||

    Hillary a rock star? Only in the sense that Mick Jagger, Dee Snider and Steven Tyler are -- people recognize the name, and they are old.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    what do you make of Hillary Clinton's term as secretary of state?

    JM: I think she did a fine job.

    Keep the Benghazi's rolling in!

  • WTF||

    What difference at this point does it make?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If the two parties are looking for another Arlen Specter, they have a candidate.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Every time they kiss or caress, Hillary and McCain's skin sticks together like cold, wet roast beef.

  • WTF||

    Thanks for that image.

  • ||

    Hugh is gunning to be NutraSweet's sidekick. You know, a Robin to his Batman. But probably gay. The best kind of gay, though: Liberace gay.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Probably?

  • PH2050||

    The Flamboyantly Gay Duo?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    But probably gay.

    You already said Robin.

  • PS wanders the Wasteland||

    At least he didn't describe the terrible decoupling sound their skin makes.

  • db||

    Ever peel Fruit Roll-Ups apart?

  • Andrew S.||

    I hate you.

  • PH2050||

    I'm trying to eat here, you sick bastard.

  • Michael Price||

    Not anymore you're not.

  • CE||

    Or peels off and reveals a fresh layer, since they are both lizard people.

  • PS wanders the Wasteland||

    She's a rock star. She has, maybe not glamour, but certainly the aura of someone widely regarded throughout the world.

    This is actually a subtle way of saying that paying attention to Hillary's political opinions is as silly as listening to Madonna's or Bono's.

  • Gbob||

    I think the rockstar comment was out of context. What he meant was "she's a rockstar. Like Nickleback. You're not quite sure why they're stars, but whatever." before he went back to shouting at kids and libertarians on his lawn.

  • PS wanders the Wasteland||

    Maybe it's because she doesn't understand that there's such a fine line between stupid and uh,...clever.

  • AlmightyJB||

    She only a rock star to the media.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Your 2008 Republican nominee, ladies and gentlemen! He's one of those open-minded, moderate Republicans - open to voting for Hillary! Why can't those teabaggers and extremists be more like McCain?

  • Finrod||

    Simply put, because we prefer winning elections to losing them.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I hate to say it, but I think I prefer Obama to this moron.

  • Libertymike||

    Would you hate to say it, but you think you would prefer tony to shriek?

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    Tough call. Both never learn anything, but Tony's arguments are sometimes more thought provoking.

  • CE||

    I definitely prefer Tony among the various left wing concern trolls. He actually defends his posts and spells out the left wing logic, so everyone can see how fragile the foundation of their philosophy is. Most of the other guys just call us selfish child-labor-enabling slavery-worshipping Koch brother embracing big corporation enabling nimwits.

  • Sevo||

    He's Bush without the intelligence and charisma.

  • Guillotined||

    Uhm, what?

  • PH2050||

    I still feel bad for voting for Obama over this fool in '08 (c'mon, Barr was a joke) but now I feel less bad.

  • John||

    If you think a woman who sat and watched as an American ambassador was killed is a rock star, you forfeit any national security credibility you have. McCain is not a neo conservative or a national security conservative. He is a power loving boot licker is totally okay with weakness and selling out American interests to our enemies if dpi g so gives him power. Sorry but praising Hillary like this after sorry performance as sec state borders on treason.

  • Fluffy||

    Maybe if anybody - and I mean anybody - in the "internationalist" wing was in even the smallest degree reliable on spending issues and civil liberties issues, McCain wouldn't have to worry about Rand Paul or Justin Amash.

    That's the bottom line.

    Right now, Paul is out there saying, "The only pathway to reduced spending and to renewed protection for civil liberties is to pull back from empire" and the reason that argument is compelling is because every single last breathing representative of the empire position is a no-good rat bastard snake on every spending issue and every civil liberties issue.

    Maybe it's NOT necessary to be an "America Firster" to be trustworthy on spending issues and civil liberties issues, but that's the GOP we have right now.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I think it is necessary to be an "America Firster", because otherwise you get the Bluetard talking point of "nation building at home".

  • John||

    Yeah. Since when does internationalist mean Medicare par d? The other problem is that the public is t going to take fuck you that is why as a justification for every national security program. It is just a mater of time before a republican wins the White House and the media and dems discover that these programs are a scandal. The the black lash will be so severe we might really have our ability to conduct counter terrorism really hindered. But McCain is so arrogant and stupid he can't see that. So he continues with the fuck you defense instead of an honest debate and reforms that would in the long term make the country safer by having a program that people understand and support.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    It seems a touch hypocritical to dump hundreds of billions of dollars into a military that does nation-building and then claim you have no money for social programs at home.

  • Sidd Finch||

    America Firsterer

  • Libertymike||

    Gotta have the right balance of warfare and welfare.

  • crazyfingers||

    If the rich would just pay their fair share they could afford to bring back the self-guided White House tours. Too bad the Rethuglicans hate the schoolchildren.

  • CE||

    Or if the Obamas stayed at La Quinta.

  • Rich||

    Nah, it's proactive. If you didn't do nation-building over there first, they'd come here to destroy our social programs at home.

  • Brett L||

    Principals before principles! Loyalty to one of his own.

  • Sidd Finch||

    So ... "America Firster" is a bad thing for an America politician? I thought "Israel Firster" was bad because, you know, America was supposed to come first(er). This is all very confusing.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    It is a rather weird insult. "This American politician, elected by Americans to serve in the American government, is more concerned with America than other countries!"

  • Zeb||

    I think it harkens back to those who opposed involvement in WWII, which according to the common national mythology was absolutely necessary.

  • CE||

    Yeah, don't want to enable the next Hitler. Because Syria or Iran or Pakistan is totally the next military, industrial and scientific equivalent of 1930's Germany, ready to dominate a continent militarily.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    She has, maybe not glamour, but certainly the aura of someone widely regarded throughout the world.

    She has a long tradition of existence to herself and to the community at large.

  • CE||

    Ron Paul is more of a rock star than Hillary Clinton, judging by the crowds he drew.

  • Sevo||

    Yea, that darn Paul, always going on about that stuff called "freedom". WIH is he talking about anyhow?

  • CatoTheElder||

    This freedom stuff is just the stuff of "esoteric, intellectual debates", which have become "very dangerous" to our national security.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAkyNjaMm34

  • The Late P Brooks||

    It's three AM; who do you want wandering out in the middle of Pennsylvania Ave in his pajamas, wearing only one slipper, screaming obscenities about General Giap?

  • CatoTheElder||

    So Bill Kristol actually wrote something I can agree with:
    "It turns out, in the real world of Republican governance, that there aren't a whole lot of small-government Republicans."

  • ||

    Didn't some guy write a book about McCain?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Nah, we would have heard about something like that.

  • some guy||

    No. But some other guy did.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    keeping the world safe for Democracy, and America safe from cynicism

    I'm not cynical; I'm jaded.

  • some guy||

    So, what's going to happen? Is a Hillary v. Rand election going to split the two parties along authoritarian lines? Are people on both sides going to jump ship? Not likely. McCain will support the Republican candidate, no matter who it is. He's a team player first. He's a "maverick" when he can get away with it.

  • Matt Welch||

    He can easily get away with supporting Hillary in 2016, since, as mentioned, he will be ending his career in public office that year.

  • ||

    It wouldn't be the first time a senator flipped and gave a speech for the other guys on his way out the door. See Zell Miller in 2004.

  • prolefeed||

    I think McCain would grit his teeth manfully and give a tepid, "damning by faint praise" endorsement of Rand Paul over Hillary.

    But I wouldn't be all that shocked if he did the same "favor" by endorsing Hillary.

  • NoVAHockey||

    He would be feted on the front page of every paper in the world for speaking at the DNC.

  • Number 7||

    If it came down to Hillary v. Rand, Hillary would win in one of the largest margins of victory in history. The statists and authoritarians and 'free shit' people and the government workers would all side with Hillary and Reason commenters would side with Rand.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    I don't see that at all. Rand will get the R's stronger than Romney did.

  • prolefeed||

    I don't think Hillary will get the nomination -- or Rand Paul. Democrats tend to nominate a "blind date", Republicans tend to nominate the next in line. So, possibly Santorum versus some lesser known Dem like Elizabeth Warren.

  • prolefeed||

    Plus, Republicans haven't nominated an actual libertarian-ish candidate since Goldwater got massacred back in the 60s. St. Reagan doesn't count -- he talked kind of libertarian, but governed statist lite.

  • db||

    You know Warren has to be fixated on the Presidency. She has very similar experience to Obama pre '08 and by the time the season rolls around, she'll have been a Senator for longer.

  • Finrod||

    Santorum has already gotten as close to the nomination as he'll ever get.

    Thankfully.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    John McCain is old, senile, and retiring. God knows what he's going to do.

  • CE||

    If Rand Paul wins the Republican nomination, the same thing will happen that would have happened if Ron Paul had won the Republican nomination:

    the same CIA/media/industrial complex talk radio hosts who warned all freedom lovers to not waste their vote on a third party candidate will push for Giuliani or Bloomberg or McCain or some other wannabe tyrant to run as a third party independent candidate to give conservatives a "responsible" option on election day.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Why is this a surprise and how many people really give a fuck at this point what McCain thinks about anything?

  • 4tehsnowflakes||

    The Koch in the Hat

    I call this game ROCKING THE VOTE

    Said the Koch. "In my coat

    Are two little Pauls, Paul One and Paul Two

    I will let them out now

    You will see something new.

    These two Pauls are not bad

    They will let you have fun

    Without further ado

    Here's Paul Two and Paul One."

    Then out of his coat came Paul One and Paul Two

    They ran up to us fast and said "Spy on you? Ewww!

    We're not friends of the cops, we are friends of the 4th

    We won't pwn your phone, in the East, West and North

    We think that we know how to help you get rich

    We'll take Democrat votes and make Clinton our biatch."

    "Hold on there" we said, "our nanny is out

    We shouldn't make changes with bad guys about."

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    There once was a man called McCain
    Whose rantings were fully insane
    Blah blah blah blah blah
    Blah blah blah blah blah
    He's an utter moron and should retire.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

  • Xenocles||

    I loled a little.

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