U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) takes questions from reporters after the weekly Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington March 11, 2014.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

‘Mean McCain’ never left

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), this week:
[McCain] blasted Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) on the North Carolina campaign trail, saying she skipped meetings of the Senate Armed Services Committee while Islamic militants executed two U.S. citizens.
“Here we are with Americans being beheaded, and Sen. Hagan doesn’t even show up for the briefing,” McCain told reporters after a Tuesday stop for GOP Senate hopeful Thom Tillis, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), two years ago:
Senator John McCain is demanding answers on the Benghazi attack, but his office tells ABC News he missed a classified briefing on the subject because of a “scheduling error.”
The classified briefing was held on Wednesday before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee – of which Senator McCain is a member – and lasted three hours…. During part of the briefing, McCain was holding a press conference demanding answers about the administration’s handling of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Maybe the Arizona Republican should have picked something else to complain about.
Of course, McCain isn’t just complaining about Hagan. The Republican traveled to New Hampshire this week to complain about Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-N.H.) work on the  Senate Armed Services Committee. “I don’t see her at very many of the hearings,” McCain said, citing his detail-free impressions. He added he doesn’t consider Shaheen a “serious member” of the committee.
Because if there’s one person who knows all about “seriousness,” it’s the notoriously wrong senior senator from Arizona.
Politico reported yesterday, “Mean John McCain is back on the campaign trail.” I suppose that’s true, though I’m wondering, when was the last time anyone saw Affable John McCain?
The piece noted that for most of McCain’s tenure on Capitol Hill, it was simply considered inappropriate and bad form for a sitting senator to go a colleague’s home state to campaign against him or her. The Senate is supposed to rely heavily on personal connections between members, and to this day, some members will not intervene in a fellow senator’s re-election bid.
McCain, however, justifies going to North Carolina and New Hampshire to attack his colleagues by pointing to the so-called “nuclear option.” In other words, Republicans abused filibuster rules to a degree without precedent in American history; Democrats restored majority rule to votes on most nominations; and McCain’s feelings are so hurt that he’s decided to campaign against his fellow senators in their home states.
I guess that’ll show all those critics who think McCain is a petty, petulant partisan.
As for the nature of the criticisms themselves, the entire “you missed a committee hearing!” line of attack is pretty weak tea. As we’ve discussed before, senators have busy schedules and sometimes they miss hearings. It’s routine, it’s bipartisan, and it often has little to do with a senator’s ability to legislate effectively. McCain, like all of his colleagues, has missed hearings and briefings, too.
McCain knows this, of course, but doesn’t seem to care.