On John McCain: A direct line from McCain ’08 to Trump ’16

john mccainJohn McCain, who passed away on Saturday at age 81, is being lionized as a political maverick, but there is an uncomfortable truth to McCain’s legacy that needs telling.

There is no President Trump without John McCain.

McCain, as the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, pushed the panic button ahead of the GOP national convention, trying to shake up the race with Democratic nominee Barack Obama by picking as his running mate the then-Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, a darling of the far right.

And thus it was that we got Palin and her racist dog-whistles on the national stage, and even in defeat that fall, what we now call the alt-right got its tailwind.

You can trace a direct line from Palin to the birther movement that Trump took up as his own cause to enter the political fray before Obama’s re-election in 2012.

From there, Trump, reading the political tea leaves, went all-out xenophobe in setting out his own presidential campaign in 2015-2016, and, well, here we are now.

Trump is Palin 2.0, and there wouldn’t have been a Palin 1.0 without: John McCain.

So, good on McCain that he literally thumbs-downed that one vote against killing ObamaCare.

What Karl Rove did to him in 2000 was abominable. What he endured in North Vietnam for five years is unimaginable, as it is that our current POTUS, a draft-dodger, would even think the words, I prefer heroes who don’t get captured, much less say them out loud, over and over and over, to score political points.

McCain was a war hero, and he didn’t entirely toe the party line as an elected.

But, he also unleashed Sarah Palin and Donald Trump on us.

That’s his most enduring legacy.

Column by Chris Graham


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