John McCain is returning to his unpredictable, often bipartisan form two and a half months after his defeat in the presidential race. In his first speech to the new Congress, McCain admonished Republicans for delaying Hillary Clinton as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state. McCain said the election showed that Americans “want us to work together, and get to work." (The Washington Post)
What the commentators said
It looks like McCain is Obama’s new best friend in the Senate, said Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post. The Arizona senator immediately and publicly praised Obama for announcing the closure of Guantánamo, and Obama has returned the favor with lavish praise for McCain. Maybe McCain sees himself as a bridge between Obama and Republicans, which could make him a “major player” in the fights ahead.
“If McCain becomes a lone public GOP ally of the Obama administration on questions like immigration or faith in its appointees, that's useful,” said Eve Fairbanks in The New Republic. “If he can rally a troupe of mavericks—longtime devotees of his in the Senate, like Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman—that'd be very useful.”
There’s nothing mavericky about getting swept up in Obamania, said Paul Mirengoff in Power Line. McCain scolded Republicans over Clinton’s confirmation despite legitimate questions of a potential conflict of interest arising from her husband’s charitable foundation. McCain isn’t doing the country any favors, he’s just reverting to “what seems to make him happiest—sticking it to conservative Republicans and assisting liberal Democrats.”
“Stickin’ it to the far right” is the thing so many people admired in McCain all along, said Dennis Sanders in The Moderate Voice. Instead of criticizing him for it, Republicans should be asking themselves why they have “become so afraid of any other flavor of conservatism that it forces people, even the irascible McCain, to conformity.”