John McCain is a maverick for real. The Arizona senator upended his party’s seven-year mission to eradicate Obamacare by voting no late last night on a Republican bill that would have eliminated parts of the Affordable Care Act after the GOP-led Senate failed to repeal and replace the health-care law.
By joining colleagues Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, McCain made sure the GOP didn’t have enough votes to kill the crowning achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency. And along the way, McCain got his revenge on Obama’s successor, President Donald Trump.
In the summer of 2015, early on in the Republican primary race, Trump attacked the Vietnam War hero, who spent five and half years in a prison camp and was repeatedly tortured. At a Christian conference, the billionaire real-estate magnate disparaged McCain’s service to his country by saying, “He’s not a war hero... I like people who weren’t captured.”
Fast-forward to the present. With Trump in control of the White House and Republicans holding a supermajority in Congress, GOP lawmakers have spent the first seven months of 2017 churching out bills with atrocious replacements for Obamacare that would leave tens of millions of Americans without health insurance. Earlier this week, McCain appeared to give the GOP momentum when he rushed back from cancer treatment to cast his vote to begin debate on the repeal-and-replace legislation.
Illustration by Alex Izaguirre
Democrats and mainstream media outlets were quick to brand McCain a villain. And all of sudden, McCain was Batman in Trump’s eyes. The president tweeted, “So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave - American hero! Thank you John.” Little did Trump know his new hero was implementing the old Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope strategy to lull the president into a false sense of imminent victory.
After McCain’s deciding vote, Trump must have been shellshocked. The commander-in-crazy could muster only a lame tweet Friday morning: “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!”
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Of course, Trump did his best to deflect attention from the embarrassment of failing to deliver on his signature campaign promise. He tweeted that the U.S. military would no longer allow transgender people to serve — a move that even blindsided Secretary of Defense James Mattis. And Trump has allowed his new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, to declare war on Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and the so-called leakers in the White House.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Trump resigned from office before year's end. There is only so much losing he can handle.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.