Succeeding Barry Goldwater in the Senate in 1987 was our poster boy John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936). Before that, McCain had already spent a couple of terms in the House of Representatives, putting his Congressional tenure at 34 years. His current term ends in 2023. Before that he spent 23 years in the U.S. Navy following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both of whom were admirals.
Here’s his bio in a TV documentary: https://www.biography.com/people/john-mccain-9542249 Some of the following text adapted from that bio.
The purpose here is to reflect on his political career as an example of the need for term limits on Congress.
McCain's introduction to politics came in 1976, when he was assigned as the Navy's liaison to the U.S. Senate. In 1981, after marrying his second wife, McCain retired from the Navy and moved to Phoenix, AZ. While working for his father-in-law's beer distribution business, he began establishing political connections.
He was first elected to political office on November 2, 1982, easily winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives based on his being a POW. McCain was a loyal supporter of the Reagan administration and found his place among conservative politicians.
After the retirement of Goldwater in 1986, McCain won election to the U.S. Senate. From 1987 to 1989, he underwent a federal investigation as a member of the "Keating Five," a group of senators who were accused of improperly intervening with federal regulators on behalf of Charles H. Keating, Jr., a bank chairman whose Lincoln Savings & Loan Association eventually became one of the biggest S&L disasters of the late 1980s. He was cleared of charges, although investigators found that he had exercised "poor judgment" by meeting with the regulators.
He weathered the scandal and easily won re-election to the Senate five more times. His reputation as a "maverick politician" with a quick temper only increased, as his views became more liberal.
In 1999, he unsuccessfully ran against Gov. George W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination and then partially supported President Bush while often differing on issues including torture, pork barrel spending, illegal immigration, a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and global warming. He also defended the Vietnam War record of Bush's opponent, Sen. John Kerry, which Kerry lied about during the campaign. Why? McCain as POW in Viet Nam.
He ran again in 2008 when he and his running mate, Sarah Palin, were defeated by Barack Obama. At the Republican National Convention in 2012, McCain showed his support for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
During the historic 2016 race he got into a dust-up with Donald Trump, one of his opponents for the nomination. In response to McCain's criticism that Trump "fired up the crazies" in the Republican party, Trump mocked McCain's military service on the campaign trail. “He was a war hero because he was captured," Trump said. "I like people who weren’t captured.” Some think that McCain could not get over that insult and it may have influenced his vote on Obamacare repeal.
July 14, 2017, as McCain underwent a procedure to remove a blood clot from above his left eye doctors found a brain tumor (Glioblastoma). After a short recovery period and consulting with his doctors, he decided to return to the Senate for the crucial vote to repeal Obamacare.
Like most of his Republican colleagues, McCain promised to repeal Obamacare, yet he was one of seven Republican Senators who voted against a full repeal and when the final effort came to vote on the so-called “skinny repeal” three senators voted against even that. Nominal Republicans Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) weren’t a big surprise but McCain, who had just run in 2016 again solemnly promising constituents he would vote to repeal, shocked all when he dramatically stood up and turned his thumb down.
Ted Cruz called that vote a betrayal of the millions suffering under Obamacare. His vote was, indeed, the ultimate betrayal of his constituents, the country and his president. He lied. Was it to hurt the president he never forgave for the POW insult?
The longer McCain was in the Senate the further he got from his conservative beginnings where Goldwater left off. In recent years the conservative scorecard Heritage Action shows only 49% for spending, regulating and even for drafting women –see recent bills he voted for/against here.
Other ratings show the decline from core American values over time: The Club for Growth current rating 71% compared with 83% lifetime; National taxpayers Union gives him a B after many As since 1993; Citizens Against Government Waste still rates McCain highly.
So, not the worst Republican Senator over time on economic issues but all is overshadowed by his disastrous vote to save Obamacare – a vote that guarantees further chaos in the 15% of the economy that is health care. Not to mention its negative ripple effect throughout the entire economy. And it was a vote to cripple the Trump administration on many levels.
Had he been replaced by a term limit on congress, his early exemplary record of protecting taxpayers would have been his legacy. And our country would be back on its way to a freer medical system.