Political Animal


July 27, 2011 4:10 PM McCain laments ‘bizarro’ ideas from the right

By Steve Benen

As the Republicans’ debt-ceiling crisis has intensified, Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) most noteworthy contribution to the debate came a few weeks ago, when he proudly asserted, “The American people … don’t want compromise.”

Today, on the Senate floor, he took a more sensible line.

If you can’t watch clips online, McCain appeared to be responding to the arguments from some far-right Republicans, including a few of his Senate colleagues, that the debt ceiling cannot be raised until a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution is approved by the House and Senate. McCain, unfortunately, is an ardent BBA supporter, but he nevertheless called the conservative line “bizarro.”

“What is really amazing about this is that some, some members are believing that we can pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in this body with its present representation — and that is foolish,” McCain said. “That is worse than foolish — that is deceiving many of our constituents, by telling them that just because the Majority Leader ‘tabled’ the balanced budget amendment legislation, that somehow through ‘amending and debate,’ we could somehow convince the majority on the other side of the aisle to go along with a balanced budget amendment of the constitution.

“That is not fair. That is not fair to the American people, to hold out and say, ‘We won’t agree to raising the debt limit until we pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.’ It’s unfair; it’s bizarro. And maybe some people who’ve only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that. Others know better.”

I should note for context that some right-wing Republican lawmakers really are making this case — no BBA, no debt-ceiling increase. I believe the clinical term for those folks is “stark raving mad.” GOP leaders have argued that there should be a vote on a BBA to satisfy the right’s demands, which Dems are willing to go along with, but which some House Republicans consider inadequate.

As for the House Republicans prepared to oppose Speaker Boehner’s right-wing budget proposal because it’s not radical enough, McCain added, “This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into GOP nominees.”


Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Danp on July 27, 2011 4:18 PM:

    “This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into GOP nominees.”

    Not to mention Sarah Palin.

  • Stetson Kennedy on July 27, 2011 4:20 PM:

    “This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into GOP nominees.”

    That's odd...he didn't mention Sarah Palin...

  • JS on July 27, 2011 4:20 PM:

    This is excellent news for John McCain?

  • Fang on July 27, 2011 4:24 PM:

    Wait a second, was that a moment of actual lucidity? Impressive.

    McCain has tarnished the hell out of his legacy for years. This may be his last stand to seem to be rational.

  • Gummitch on July 27, 2011 4:26 PM:

    Not only do they apparently have no idea how the Constitution gets amended, but they demand to dictate the result of a vote in Congress.

    So much for their adoration of democracy.

  • Tim on July 27, 2011 4:26 PM:

    It's ironic that McCain is railing against "bizarro" right-wing antics, given the fact that his choice of Palin as running mate was instrumental in the injection of a virulent strain of The Stupid into our nation's political bloodstream.

  • memekiller on July 27, 2011 4:26 PM:

    This doesn't appear to be working out well for anybody. But I've thought about this for several sleepless nights now, and I think I may have actually come up with a solution. You see, apparently, Congress has the authority to vote to raise the debt ceiling. All they have to do is vote on it, and could be wrapped up in time for dinner.

    What's more, there appears to be precedence for this: Congress has raised it 89 times before.

    What do you guys think?

  • Mitch on July 27, 2011 4:30 PM:


    I imagine that he's noticed that (right now) the public is not on the side of the Repug fanatics, so he's trying to appear more reasonable than of late.

    Ol' Johnny McCain leans whichever way the wind is blowing. Not sure if that's a good thing or not, but at least he's not blinded by ideology.

    Not today, anyway.

  • jlt on July 27, 2011 4:33 PM:

    Could it be that we will get a clean one page debt ceiling bill like the repubs did in 2006.

    Someone needs to remind them of that little factoid.

    then this:


  • T2 on July 27, 2011 4:39 PM:

    when McOld starts making sense, well I guess I've seen everything now...

  • DAY on July 27, 2011 4:39 PM:

    I'd prefer an amendment making God our Oracle in Chief, usurping the powers of the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court. All questions will be in the form of "What shall we do next, oh Mighty One?" and be accompanied with a sacrificial goat. Or virgin, if one can be found.

  • Mr. Serf Man on July 27, 2011 4:41 PM:

    When John McCain starts making sense.......

  • DisgustedWithItAll on July 27, 2011 4:54 PM:

    Please, just make it stop.

  • Fang on July 27, 2011 5:00 PM:


    He really is a crankier, crazier Romney in some ways.

    Actually I think McCain realizes that with Palin and his dismal campaign he's destroyed his entire legacy (what there was of it). He's now the old guy mocked on the Daily Show, who was in Palin's shadow, and who's party is trying to burn down the country. So he's making various stabs at something (like being on so many talk shows).

    Sad, really

  • yellowdog on July 27, 2011 5:26 PM:

    Ugh. McCain trying to burnish his standing with . . . whom exactly? The ship has sailed. He put Palin on the ticket in 2008, then pulled even harder right to get reelected to the Senate in 2010. As one of the few GOP members with some national reputation and (limited) capacity for making his own decisions, McCain has watched his party get taken over by cranks, bigots, and zealots. Rather than stand up to them, he urged them on. (How about that creepy Pastor Hagee guy McCain has embraced...sheesh) It is sad with him, because you know he knows better. He just does not care.

  • Kathryn on July 27, 2011 6:07 PM:

    The Three Faces of Eve = John McCain

    Captcha is ilimper volcano, perfect

  • clyatonbigsby on July 28, 2011 2:57 AM:

    McCain begot this. He gave us Palin who gave us the raw naked ignorance of the P Party.

    The same supporters that were showing up with misspelled signs during the Palin rallies are the same ignorant idiots who are in the P party.

    They voted for Bush and cheered him when he was peeing all over the place and then when Obama got elected they acted like he did it.

    The P Party.

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  • zandru on July 28, 2011 7:48 AM:

    He Scores!

    ... with good sound bite, no less. This ought to be good for another 5 yrs of invites to the Sunday Talking Republican Heads Teevie shows.

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