If Sen. John McCain is holding a grudge against Donald Trump, you’d be hard-pressed to blame him. After all, Trump not only insulted McCain’s war service; he rode the insult to higher poll numbers than ever before! McCain might have been able to get over the fact that Trump questioned his status as a “war hero,” but it’ll be a long time before he gets over the sting of such a public rejection.
But McCain’s not new to holding grudges. He was a constant critic of the Bush administration; sometimes you got the feeling that he forgot which team he was playing for. There, too, he was sore about Bush’s campaign tactics, which eliminated him in the Republican primaries.
Of course, McCain wasn’t even running for president this year, yet he managed to make himself one of Trump’s loudest critics. He spent the election waffling back and forth between supporting Trump and not, trying to read the Arizona electorate for the most favorable winds. Ultimately, he settled on “not” after the infamous Access Hollywood tape came out.
But even if all of this history wasn’t there, McCain would likely be taking an antagonist position on Trump just because of the Russian meddling. McCain is one of the GOP’s biggest anti-Russia hawks, and he would love nothing more than to see President Trump put a new Cold War into motion, complete with several proxy wars in several Middle Eastern countries. Nothing gets the ol’ patriotic spirit brewing that some international conflict, and McCain is giddy at the thought of going toe to toe with Vladimir Putin.
Whatever Trump’s position on Russia winds up being, it’s safe to say that it won’t align with McCain’s. And that’s going to be impossible for McCain to swallow in silence. It’s one thing to watch a Democrat make a mess of foreign policy, but McCain can’t sit still and watch a Republican administration try to make nice with Moscow. He will be a constant thorn in Trump’s side, undermining any attempt the president and the secretary of state make towards normalizing relations and ending sanctions.
The fact is, though, that this election was a turning of the Republican page. The days of Bush-style neo-conservatism are gone, destroyed forever by the disastrous conclusion and aftermath of the Iraq War. Trump was the final nail in the coffin. If McCain wants to be a part of the future, he’ll have to realize that.