Politics & Policy

‘They Basically Disqualified Themselves for Showing their True Character.’

I think Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, is providing a needed ethical cleansing by rebuking those who are openly campaigning to be the appointed replacement if Senator John McCain either steps down or passes on before 2022.

“John McCain is the elected senior senator for Arizona until 2022. . . . I have found it a little bit off-color, some of the prognosticators and pundits who have been making these predictions as to the senator’s outcome,” he said. “I think people should be praying for him and rooting for him. To the politicians out there that have been openly lobbying for this position, they basically disqualified themselves for showing their true character.”

Back in July, McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer, and he is undergoing treatment. Ducey said in radio interview that he thinks McCain will be “headed back to Washington at the turn of the calendar year.”

For an 81-year-old man being treated for brain cancer, McCain’s attendance record has been phenomenal; one could argue that the tax-cut vote is the first major vote McCain has missed since his diagnosis. On the other hand, McCain has missed less-significant or consequential votes. Since July, the Senate has had 168 votes; McCain has missed 38 of them.

In that same time period, 80-year-old Mississippi senator Thad Cochran has missed 36 votes from outpatient surgery and a urinary-tract infection.

God bless these guys; as the old toast goes, may they live to be a hundred. Hopefully their current treatments will allow them to keep doing what they love and serving their constituents for as long as possible.

But just because it’s unseemly for Arizona Republican politicians to openly campaign to be McCain’s replacement, it is fair to ask at what point the health issues of lawmakers will interfere with their ability to do the job. In 2012, then-52-year-old Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois suffered a stroke, and he missed every vote in the Senate for a year. Everyone was joyous to see Kirk return to work in 2013, but . . . was it fair to Illinois to effectively only have one senator for that period?

How long does a health-related absence have to get before it’s fair to start asking whether constituents would be better served by a replacement? A month? Six months? A year?

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