Friday April 8, 2022
“The senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin,” fumed John McCain back in March 2017. His target: Rand Paul, who had committed the unforgivable offense of momentarily delaying the latest round of NATO expansion. Montenegro, a tiny country in southeastern Europe that most Americans have never heard of, was about to join the sprawling military alliance — and McCain was determined to see the final ratification ritual proceed with as little debate as possible. So he hurled the time-honored “working for Putin” accusation, and sure enough, Paul quickly withdrew his minor procedural objection. The glorious ascension of Montenegro to NATO membership status was thereby assured.
Since that episode, a lot has transpired regarding the public perception of McCain. He delighted liberals by feuding regularly with Donald Trump — even going so far as to denounce Trump for engaging in “disgraceful” and “pathetic” flattery of Putin. “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” McCain raged. He undermined Congressional Republicans’ legislative agenda during the brief window in Trump’s presidency when the party had unified control of government — famously delivering a dramatic thumbs-down gesture to derail GOP hopes of repealing Obamacare, as a chagrined Mitch McConnell watched powerlessly on.