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 Five and a half years after Senator John McCain killed off what was left of The Maverick — the independent-thinking, “not afraid to tell it like it is” character he’d been LARPing since the 2000 Republican primary — in order to win a contentious primary against Tea Party challenger J.D. Hayworth, he’s facing the prospect of the end of his career once again.

This time, it’s against a state senator who’s perfectly content with grifting votes at a Donald Trump rally. McCain’s seat has been targeted by conservative groups for years now to no avail, but this time, it’s a fair question to ask if McCain’s heart is in it anymore. And even if it is: Does anyone even care?


McCain went from being the leader of the party in 2008 to the poster boy for RINOism almost immediately after, and the right wing was emboldened by his loss to blame his — and later, Mitt Romney’s — perceived lack of conservatism for the party’s failure to keep Barack Obama out of the White House. Over the past couple of years he’s been at the forefront of a very public argument with ultraconservatives like Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul for control of the party, and McCain’s tendency to work with Democrats on a few different issues have made him the right wing’s biggest internal enemy.

Even McCain’s military career has, however cynically, come into question of late. Back in July, Donald Trump insulted John McCain by saying he “liked people who weren’t captured,” a reference to McCain being a prisoner of war for five-and-a-half years in Vietnam. Bill Kristol swore that this would eventually kill Trump’s insurgent campaign, and the political press questioned whether or not Trump had finally gone too far. Five months later, he’s still here, and still dominating in the polls.

Not driving the surveying for president, adventitiously, is Senator Lindsey Graham, whom McCain embraced to run basically a similar crusade he did in 2008. Graham, a remote approach peddle who has demonstrated an ability to bargain with Democrats on issues, for example, environmental change and migration, didn’t take part in a solitary one of the fundamental GOP faces off regarding, and surveyed with a fourth of the help that Mike Huckabee has before dropping out of the race in mid-December.

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