McCain Feels Heat From the Right

Demand for apology from Obama reflects conservative challenge

It was a good week ago that the Department of Homeland Security report identifyied the potential problem of "right-wing extremism." It was a week ago that veterans returning from Iraq were mentioned as being possibly susceptible to recruitment from violent right-wing elements. Over that period, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano took to the TV stations to defend the report (even if, in one case, it was only one question at a time).

So, considering all that happened last week, how come it took John McCain -- a veteran himself -- such a long time to demand that President Obama apologize to veterans?

Kind of a delayed reaction, doesn't it seem? I mean, there's selective outrage -- and then there's delayed selective outrage. Considering Napolitano hails from McCain's own state of Arizona -- and was governor for two terms -- could he really believe that she was intentionally trying smear the men and women in the military? And, even so, why wouldn't he just pick up the phone and yell at Napolitano directly? Instead, he points the finger at Obama and demands that the president apologize, rather than the Cabinet member responsible for releasing the report.

So, what's going on here? It's not as if Big Mac is starved for attention. He's back in the Senate and as influential as ever (even though the bipartisanship that Obama promised hasn't exactly manifested itself).

Well, maybe that is the problem: McCain is back in the senate where he is known for his bipartisanship -- which has gotten him in trouble repeatedly with members of his own party. And this week, that problem took human form as Chris Simcox -- founder of the immigration restrictionist group, the Minutemen -- announced that he was going to challenge McCain in next year's GOP primary. So, McCain is already feeling the need to continue flexing his national security bona fides. 

In addition to calling for the White House apology, he also tried to pull the White House back from pursuing the torture memo issue. Thursday, he said he feared a "witch hunt."

Rather than witches, it seems clear that John McCain is fearing continued pressure from his right. Figure that this will make McCain a lot less "bipartisan" toward Obama over the next year.

Robert A. George is a New York writer. He blogs at Ragged Thots.

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