The next issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine has a profile of the senior senator from Arizona John McCain. The article discusses McCain as a series of clichés "the maverick, the former maverick, the curmudgeon, the bridge builder, the war hero bent on transcending the call of self-interest to serve a cause greater than himself, the sore loser, old bull, last lion, loose cannon, happy warrior, elder statesman, lion in winter." Perhaps one of the most surprising elements of the piece was McCain's reaction to Harry Reid's turning to the "nuclear option," eliminating the filibuster for Presidential nominees. More shocking than his choice of words directed toward the Majority Leader was the fact that it is one of the few recent cases of McCain "attacking" someone across the aisle:
I’m going to go kick the crap out of Harry Reid,” he keeps announcing as we walk from his office to the Capitol. Once on the Senate floor, McCain approaches Reid, puts his hands on the majority leader’s shoulders, smiles and says something I can’t make out from the visitors’ gallery above. Reid smiles back, says a few words in reply and places his hands on McCain’s sides. It looks as if they are dancing.
Minutes later, McCain stands to address the chamber. He is, as advertised, very, very unhappy. Today is a “black chapter in the history of the Senate,” he says, referencing something Reid said back in 2008, as a way of pointing out his hypocrisy. He then goes on to explain that this is as “historic” a vote as he can remember casting and that he feels great “sorrow” for the harm done to the institution on this “sad day.”
After McCain leaves the floor, I ask him what he said to Reid before his speech. “I said, ‘Harry, I’m going to go kick the crap out of you.’ Then he said, ‘John, I would expect nothing less.’