Saturday, July 29, 2017

Murkowski Is the Real Maverick

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

According to most of the national news outlets, Arizona's crusty old Senator John McCain was the deciding vote in stopping Trumpcare dead in its tracks this past Thursday night, but one Republican defection, even one by as formidable a player as John McCain, was not enough to kill the GOP assault on American health care.  There are fifty-two Republican senators out of a total of one hundred.  One defection alone would have still given them a victory.  Two defections would have left the vote at fifty-fifty and allowed Vice President Pence to cast the deciding vote - another victory.  The only way the Republicans could have lost was with three or more defections, and that is just what happened.

Yes, Johnny Mac voted no, and he did so at the last minute in a move he pre-billed as being "the show."  But McCain's principled stance against his party would have been just so much pissing up a rope if he hadn't been joined in his effort by two other senators:  Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Treachery in politics always comes with a cost, but McCain is the least likely of the three defectors to pay a much of a price.   He was re-elected last fall and does not have to face voters again until 2022.  Add to that math the fact that he has recently been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition, and McCain's actual concerns over re-election are probably nil.  His position is also strengthened by the fact that he is almost a constant presence on the Sunday morning national television news shows, a perch from which he can speak directly to millions of American households.  John McCain may very well be the senator who is most insulated from Trump reprisals.

Susan Collins of Maine is more open to the vengeance of Trump, but she comes across as someone unlikely to be bullied.  Collins, in fact, announced last August that she would not be voting for Trump in the general election "based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics."  Senator Collins shouldn't expect any favors from the Trump White House, nor is she likely to receive any.  She drew her line in the sand early and seems content to sit back and poke the pig as the need arises.

Of the three "no" votes on the "skinny" Obamacare repeal vote, it is is Lisa Murkowski who opened herself up to real political risk, and both she and Trump know it.  Trump attacked her multiple times on Twitter this week, with his best shot coming after Thursday night's vote that appears to have disabled the Trumpcare measure for the time being:

Senator @lisamurkowski of the Great State of Alaska really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad!

Trump's tacky tweet was followed by a phone call from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to both of Alaska's senators stating Trump's displeasure over how the vote had gone - with a clear implication that Alaska's energy interests could suffer because of Murkowski's stand on the issue of health care..

Trump was in his full bully mode and the target was one of his favorites - a woman.

Of course, this particular woman in one of the most powerful members of the United States Senate and will damned hard to cower.  She is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and is the ranking member of the Interior-Environment Subcommittee.  In both roles she has oversight and budgetary power over Zinke's Interior Department.  As one news commentator said today, "Anyone who takes a shot at Murkowski better make sure they get her the first time."

Taking on Donald Trump is a dangerous proposition, but Lisa Murkowski may just well be the right woman for the job.  She is the real maverick in this Trump-inspired psychodrama.

No comments: