The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

Senator John McCain Faces One More Fight, and Everyone’s in His Corner

Awful, awful news.

Sen. John McCain revealed Wednesday that he has a primary brain tumor. The cancer was discovered during cranial surgery last week to remove a blood clot above his left eye.

In a statement from Mayo Clinic, McCain’s doctors described the tumor as a glioblastoma.

The American Brain Tumor Association describes glioblastoma tumors as typically malignant and difficult to treat because they contain many types of cells.

“It’s a very aggressive tumor,” said Dr. Joseph Zabramski, a neurosurgeon at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix not involved in McCain’s treatment. “In general, it is a tumor that has relentless force. You can slow it down but not stop it.”

The median survival rate for the most common type of glioblastoma is 14.6 months, according to the association. About 30 percent of patients live two years with glioblastomas.

The 80-year-old McCain, R-Ariz., is reviewing treatment options with his family. Those could include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, according to the Mayo statement.

One can only imagine the thoughts going through the minds of members of the McCain family right now; Meghan McCain offered a heartfelt statement here.

As much as the senator’s fighting spirit and love for his work is irrepressible, it is quite possible that he may choose to resign to focus on his treatment. If McCain resigns, Governor Doug Ducey would appoint an interim senator, and Arizona law requires that the replacement be of the same political party as the departing senator. That senator would serve until the next statewide election, which in Arizona is in 2018. The winner of the 2018 special Senate election would serve the remainder of McCain’s term, which ends in 2022.

Arizona’s other senator, Jeff Flake, is up for reelection next year, so it is possible the state will have two Senate elections going on simultaneously. If McCain does not resign from the Senate before November 2018, the special Senate election would be held in 2020.

Back in June, McCain had an odd, slow-speaking exchange with former FBI Director James Comey during a hearing, one that left a lot of watchers confused and wondering what McCain was thinking. McCain later issued a statement in which he attempted to clarify his remarks, joking, “I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads. Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games.” One can’t help but wonder if the brain tumor played a factor.

Trump on Sessions: ‘I Would Have Picked Someone Else’

How supported do you think Attorney General Jeff Sessions feels this morning?

President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened.

“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said.

Once again, the president is off on his own, blurting the first thing that comes into his mind, not coordinating with anyone around him, and either oblivious or indifferent to the consequences.

It goes without saying that not a single adviser to President Trump would urge him to publicly criticize his own attorney general like this, and they would probably tell him that there’s no benefit to expressing this kind of frustration publicly. Sessions can’t undo the recusal decision, there’s no indication that Sessions thinks he made a mistake in that decision, and this can only lead to two things: more whispers that Sessions’ days are numbered as attorney general because the president doesn’t have faith in his judgment or Sessions deciding he’s had enough of it and resigning.

Tensions between a president and attorney general aren’t new to Washington, but when you add yesterday’s comments from the president to the earlier reports that Sessions had offered his resignation during an earlier tense exchange with Trump, it’s fair to wonder at what point Sessions feels too publicly undermined to continue in his position. Or considering the president’s tempestuousness, Trump could pull off a sequel to his Comey firing. The attorney general serves at the president’s pleasure like the rest of the cabinet.

But Sessions’ departure would set up another headache for an administration that’s already full of them, and just add to the narrative that the Trump White House simply cannot govern. It’s worth thinking back to all of the political capital expended to get Sessions confirmed back in February. Trump seems strangely oblivious to how capricious he’s behaving; Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russian investigation was more or less unavoidable once the Senate learned he had forgotten to mention a few casual meetings with the Russian ambassador. Sessions’ successor would face even more scrutiny; Sessions at least had his former colleagues on the GOP side willing to go to bat for him. And if Trump is going to rage for months over unavoidable decisions and rip his attorney general publicly over every decision he doesn’t like, who in their right mind would want the job?

Oh, and if the “failing” New York Times is always full of “fake news,” why is President Trump giving them an exclusive interview that lasts 50 minutes?

ADDENDA: Friends and supporters of National Review will want to mark October 25 on their calendar, as that is the night of this year’s William F. Buckley Jr. Prize Dinner. The Prize for Leadership in Political Thought will be awarded to author Tom Wolfe, recognizing his acclaimed writing and influence on American culture over five decades. The Prize for Leadership in Supporting Liberty, which recognizes conservative philanthropy, will be awarded to Bruce and Suzie Kovner for their support and leadership of organizations that defend private enterprise, free markets and free trade; protect individual rights; and perform scholarly research that strengthens American democratic principles. They will also be honored for their support of education reform, particularly with regard to charter schools; and for their leadership of the major performing arts institutions of New York City.

The National Review Institute has rooms at a discounted rate at The Knickerbocker Hotel, where a shuttle to Gotham Hall will be provided. In addition, we have a very limited number of discounted rooms available at The Algonquin. But be careful over there, I hear the crowd at the round table can be a little rough.

 . . . I’m scheduled to appear on CNN International today at 2:30 p.m.


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