He's back to being a maverick again—and by "maverick," we mean destructively joining the Washington consensus at the expense of the conservative movement:
Asked about a hypothetical race between the former secretary of state and his Republican Senate colleague Paul — whom McCain called a “wacko bird” along with his Tea Party-backed allies — McCain laughed, “It’s gonna be a tough choice.”
“Let me just clarify that,” McCain said. “I think that Rand Paul represents a segment of the GOP, just like his father. And I think he is trying to expand that, intelligently, to make it larger.”
Presumably a Ted Cruz presidential run, rumored to be in the works, would also send McCain scampering across the aisle. Cruz, after all, is another of those rare avian specimens known as the wacko birds, so named for their bizarre and exotic habit of resisting the exercise of unlimited executive power. Part of this may come from McCain's friendship with Clinton, which is known to be cozy and once extended to a vodka-shot contest at an Estonian restaurant (Hillary won). And Paul and Cruz are not the only appealing Republicans making noise about 2016; McCain would likely find a Marco Rubio candidacy far more palatable.
But to consider opposing Paul if he's the nominee? Seriously? It's fine that McCain and Paul have clashed over interventionism and domestic surveillance. There have been broad disagreements over foreign policy brewing in the GOP for some time (represented most vocally by the Christie vs. Paul passive-aggressive-aggressive-aggressive sniping of recent days). But as hawks and libertarians inevitably clash, let's remember that there are conservatives who are hawkish, and then there are conservatives who only call themselves conservatives because they're hawkish. McCain, self-appointed heir to progressive titan TR, increasingly seems to be the latter. So let him vote for Hillary Clinton. Better for Republicans to embrace the wacko birds than the pterodactyls.