Somebody Put on ABBA: John McCain Needs to Relax


When I was recently in London, I learned through my sources that Senator McCain and his wife were over in the UK for one primary reason, even though it might not have been the official reason, and that was to see the London production of Mamma Mia.
The Senator and Mrs. McCain apparently really relax and have fun listening to ABBA.
But today, it’s clear that the Senator needs another trip to the theatre — or maybe needs to get some ABBA time on his Ipod.
The Senator wrote one of the most disdainful letters to another Senator that TWN has seen in a long time.
McCain’s letter isn’t quite up as high as Dick Cheney’s “Go Fuck Yourself!” comment to Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the Senate — though it does go neck-and-neck with Bill Frist losing it and calling Harry Reid untrustworthy for the rest of the Congressional Session after Reid invoked Rule 21 and shut down the Senate.
The opening paragraph is tough enough — but the rest of the letter keeps sizzling:

I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere. When you approached me and insisted that despite your leadership’s preference to use the issue to gain a political advantage in the 2006 elections, you were personally committed to achieving a result that would reflect credit on the entire Senate and offer the country a better example of political leadership, I concluded your professed concern for the institution and the public interest was genuine and admirable.
Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter to me dated February 2, 2006, which explained your decision to withdraw from our bipartisan discussions. I’m embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble. Again, sorry for the confusion, but please be assured I won’t make the same mistake again.

Some of this tension became evident after a report TWN made about a blogger conference call with Senator Harry Reid in which he suggested that an unnamed Democratic Senator had come to him to suggest a way forward on bipartisan ethics reform. Reid told those on the call that this was not a time to work with the other side but was rather a time to contrast the Republicans with Democrats.
I reported this — and George Stephanopoulos used a clip from TWN for his show in an exchange with Barack Obama. When asked if he was the “unnamed Senator”, Obama evaded the question and then confirmed that there were differences between his and Reid’s approaches, though subtle ones, and declared his commitment to genuiune bipartisan reform.
TWN has since confirmed that Senator Obama was in fact “the” unnamed Senator.
Apparently, Reid’s “us vs. them” admonition to Obama won out in the end, and McCain lashed out at Obama, flaming him in such a way as to let the public know that a bridge is being torched, blown up, and burned.
The ball is now in Obama’s court. Will he flame McCain back? Will he keep silent? Will he offer some constructive direction that gives McCain a chance to calm down and join forces again in a common effort on ethics reform?
McCain is going on the Late Show with David Letterman Thursday night.
This imbroglio will probably generate some pretty good content in Letterman’s banter with McCain, but if he isn’t heated up enough already, TWN hears through other sources that the American public will be treated to a cute cut from the newly released Eugene Jarecki film, “Why We Fight,” in which while talking about the importance of ethics in defense contracting and suggesting that a serious investigation into Halliburton contracting is warranted, Vice President Cheney calls him on the phone.
McCain comes off great in the film — but the episode with Cheney’s call out of the blue — is priceless.
We suspect that if McCain is back in control, he’ll be calm when Letterman rolls the film clip, but if that and Obama hit simultaneously on Lettermans’s show, watch out.
— Steve Clemons