On Sunday, John McCain told George Stephanopoulos that “health care reform might be in a very different place today” if Teddy Kennedy were well enough to participate in the negotiations.
“He had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions, which really are the essence of successful negotiations, so it’s huge that he’s absent,” McCain said on “This Week,” mentioning his “personal affection” for Kennedy.
Over the last 24 hours, many other observers have noted Kennedy’s reputation for reaching across the aisle. Interestingly, the same used to be said about McCain.
When he ran for president, McCain’s reputation for a principled bipartisanship was intact. But since his defeat, he has bowed to the harsh nihilism that seems to be all that Republicans represent these days. They just want to defeat Obama and his policies. They don’t care about getting anything done.
If McCain really has such “personal affection” for Kennedy — or if he has a shred of concern left for his country — he ought to quit listening to the cynics of his party and start seriously negotiating on health care reform.
Teddy Kennedy earned his reputation for pragmatism when Democrats were out of power. The GOP needs the same sort of pragmatism now that they are out of power.
Even if few other Republicans follow McCain’s lead, he has little to lose with the party’s base, who never cared much for him anyhow. McCain might as well accomplish something worthwhile in his remaining years in the Senate.