April 20, 2024
Whether or not he or his supporters want to admit it, the late Arizona Sen. John McCain was a controversial figure in Republican circles. Whether or not she or her supporters want to admit it, 2022 GOP Arizona gubernatorial candidate and 2024 senatorial hopeful Kari Lake is, too -- albeit...

Whether or not he or his supporters want to admit it, the late Arizona Sen. John McCain was a controversial figure in Republican circles.

Whether or not she or her supporters want to admit it, 2022 GOP Arizona gubernatorial candidate and 2024 senatorial hopeful Kari Lake is, too — albeit for being on the opposite end of the Republican spectrum.

Lake is — at least for electoral reasons — trying to make peace with the moderate McCain faction of the party and the McCain family in particular.

Meghan McCain, John McCain’s daughter and former co-host on “The View,” had this rejoinder: “NO PEACE, B****!”

So, yes, you may begin to see why the McCains — who have sold themselves as the face of moderate, reasonable conservatism — still come trailing controversy in their wake.

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McCain, a Vietnam War hero who was first elected to the Senate in 1986, tried to emphasize that he was a “maverick,” even when he was the Republican standard-bearer for president in 2008. “Maverick,” to many conservatives’ ears, sounded a lot like an excuse for moderation and even liberalism.

Before his death in 2018 of brain cancer, one of his last major acts was casting a vote against scrapping Obamacare, leaving America with the onerous health care legislation.

While it is generally unseemly to speak ill of the dead — and McCain does have both personal and political accomplishments to tout — his name still remains a kind of byword for the type of Arizona Republican who invariably betrays a conservative electorate. While his similarly RINOish colleague, the former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, was inarguably worse in that department, he also didn’t have the name recognition (both positive and negative) that McCain did.

It’s a negative impression that Lake, running as a conservative firebrand for governor in 2022, leveraged.

“We don’t have any McCain Republicans in here, do we? Get the hell out!” she said during one rally, according to the Arizona Republic.

In other remarks, Lake said the GOP establishment “was the party of McCain. It was bad. Arizona has delivered some losers, haven’t they?”

“We drove a stake through the heart of the McCain machine,” she added after winning the 2022 gubernatorial primary.

However, Lake has attempted a resolution to the feud — either because she means it or because more McCain-friendly voters might defect to independent incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in what will likely be a three-way race for the Senate seat she wants.

“Lake suggested Monday in an interview with KTAR (92.3 FM) that her disparaging words about John McCain were said in jest and at a time when Republican rival Karrin Taylor Robson was attacking her in their contested 2022 gubernatorial primary,” the Arizona Republic reported.

Meghan McCain wasn’t having it.

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“Kari Lake is trying to walk back her continued attacks on my Dad (& family) and all of his loyal supporters after telling them to ‘get the hell out,’” she said in a Tuesday post on X. “Guess she realized she can’t become a Senator without us. No peace, b****. We see you for who you are – and are repulsed by it.”

WARNING: The following posts contain graphic language that some readers will find offensive.

In a response Wednesday, Lake said she wanted “to make Senator McCain and Larry Lake [her father] proud.”

“As mothers, (both with two kiddos) I’m know we both agree that our children’s future is too important to let it slip away over past grudges or hurt feelings. That’s why I’m working hard to unite Republicans, Independents, Democrats — ALL Americans,” she wrote. “We are facing huge challenges and it’s going to take ‘all hands on deck’ to pull things back from the brink.

“My dad passed away from cancer, too. I trust and believe that if our fathers were still with us they would do everything they could to save this Republic.

“Our movement to save Arizona & America is growing, and it’s Mama Bears like us who are leading the charge — ALL Moms want the same thing: to leave our children a better America than the one we had. It’s as simple as that.”

She opened the door to a conversation with McCain and said, “I value you. I value your family and I value the passion you have for our state.”

That response was thoughtful and considerate; I can’t see within Lake’s soul to say if it was heartfelt or expedient, but there you have it.

This, on the other hand, was McCain’s rejoinder:

Well, if keeping grudges alive beats keeping the better parts of your father’s memory alive, Meghan McCain is winning at life.

But then, this was always the problem with what Lake termed the “McCain machine” back in 2022: It is a self-mythologizing institution that has no truck with any criticism of the late senator’s record as a legislator or his stewardship of the Republican Party in Arizona as a whole.

His response to his image problem during his life, it’s worth noting, too often seemed to be: “What problem?” He was winning elections, after all — even if, as the state’s most visible lawmaker since Barry Goldwater, he was alienating huge swaths of voters and allowing a now-more-solidified Democratic opposition to gain ground in what was ordinarily a solidly red state.

Lake — facing the prospect of a three-way race if she wins the state’s Republican primary race — has an opposite image problem from McCain without the benefit of incumbency. She’s on the conservative wing of the party in an election where she needs to keep the Republicans together if she’s to have a chance of winning — and from keeping the Arizona GOP from repeating the same disappointing results it achieved in 2022. She’s done what John McCain didn’t do: Reach out across that gulf and try to pull the party together.

Is McCain wrong for saying this?

Yes: 0% (0 Votes)

No: 0% (0 Votes)

The response from the de facto spokeswoman for the McCain family and its legacy: “NO PEACE, B****!”

If Meghan — or any other individual with the surname McCain and/or a connection to the late senator, for that matter — wonders why he remains arguably the most controversial Republican moderate in recent political memory, one can begin with her reaction to Lake’s show of contrition, and then go from there.

Disclosure: Floyd Brown, one of the owners and founder of The Western Journal, is voluntarily serving as chairman of Kari Lake’s Senate campaign.


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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.

C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).

Birthplace

Morristown, New Jersey

Education

Catholic University of America

Languages Spoken

English, Spanish

Topics of Expertise

American Politics, World Politics, Culture