The Corner

Medicare, Ctd.

A friend writes:


I have a MAJOR problem with this piece. Deroy applauds the nine GOP Senators who voted against the final Medicare vote. I would argue that none of these Republicans represent a true “Profile in Courage” as Deroy claims.

First of all, your point about John Chafee is correct. He’s a liberal Democrat for all intents and purposes. So, let’s remove him. Now we are down to eight. (Side note: Chafee went along on the second procedural vote after getting a promise from the leadership that Providence wouldn’t be one of the six sites chosen for the future competition test-run. He voted against the leadership in the first procedural vote when it didn’t count for much.)

Trent Lott, in typically spineless Trent Lott fashion, caved when it mattered most as evidenced by his last-second wimp-out on the ultimately more important second procedural vote. See article:,2933,104017,00.html

That leaves us with 7 Senators left. Like Lott…Nickles, Gregg, Ensign, Graham, and Sununu could have actually earned a so-called ‘profile in courage’ had they voted ‘nay’ on the second procedural vote which only passed by a 2-vote margin. When it really, truly counted, these five did not come through. It’s a little bit easier (sarcasm intended) to vote ‘nay’ when you know the ‘yeas’ are going to win anyhow. Here’s the 2nd procedural vote:

That leaves us with 2 Senators left…Hagel and McCain. Both Hagel and McCain voted against the leadership in all three votes, including the more important #2 procedural vote. I don’t know what Hagel’s reasoning was, but I suspect that it was probably similar to either McCain’s or Chafee’s.

McCain’s reasoning was his typically strange mish-mash of populism and free-market rhetoric that recognizes the problem and then offers little or nothing that would truly fix it.

Based on that statement, I personally wouldn’t include McCain on any profile of courage list. My reasoning is that the statement appears to imply a ‘yea’ vote had the provisions he supported been included. If this is true (and I suppose I technically can’t prove that it is), McCain would not deserve to be on any ‘courage’ list either.

So here’s my new list:

Profile in Belonging to the Wrong Political Party:

John Chafee (R?-Rhode Island)

Profile in Continued Spinelessness:

Trent Lott (R-Mississippi)

Profile in Lack-of-Courage When It Counts:

Don Nickles (R-Oklahoma)

Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire)

John Ensign (R-Nevada)

Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)

John Sununu (R-New Hampshire)

Profile in Probably-Not-Courageous-if-History-is-a-Guide:

Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska)

Profile in Doubtful Courage:

John McCain (R-Arizona)

Happy Thanksgiving,

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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