Update (17:23): Monkey see, monkey do: MSNBC's Chris Matthews quoted extensively from this post on today's "Hardball" in a segment entitled "Whatever Happened to John McCain?" Matthews and his guests lamented McCain's swing to the right in 2010.
Hell hath no fury like Joe Klein disillusioned.
The Time magazine writer apparently had a bit of a liberal journalist man-crush on Sen. John McCain back when the Arizona Republican was reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats for illegal-immigrant amnesty.
Now post 2008, not so much, particularly since McCain has tacked to the right on immigration and border security and stayed there even after his successful reelection to the Senate in November.
Klein unloaded both barrels on McCain in a Saturday evening Time.com Swampland blog post entitled "Two Dreams, One Dead" (emphasis mine), calling McCain every label that popped into his head from "troglodyte" to "trigger-happy gambler":
The Senate today passed the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which is a good thing. It did not pass the "Dream Act," which is a cold, cold abomination. There is a relationship between the two. Repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will allow homosexuals--who have fought honorably in every one of America's wars--to serve openly. Blocking the "Dream Act" means that young immigrants, who were brought here illegally by their parents, will not be able to gain citizenship by completing college or by serving in the military.
The repeal of "don't ask" will get most of the attention in the media--as it should, another step toward the perfection of our democracy. But let us focus for a moment on the "Dream Act," a vote of staggering cynicism and ugliness on the part of most Republicans and five morally-deficient Democrats. Two of the original sponsors, John McCain and Orrin Hatch, voted against the bill...and one wonders why, especially in McCain's case, given the fact that he recently won reelection and doesn't have to pretend to be a troglodyte anymore. McCain has professed himself all misty and honored in the past when he attended ceremonies in which green-card holders and other non-citizens achieved citizenship through military service. But, because of the anti-immigrant mania, this flagrantly cynical and cowardly politician, would deny similar status to young people who--through no fault of their own--were brought to this country as children, grew up as Americans and love the country enough to serve it. If the Dream Act were passed, we would have gained an estimated 65,000 valuable, patriotic and productive citizens--college graduates, military service-members--each year. We could use them....
McCain distinguished himself doubly this weekend, opposing the Dream Act and leading the opposition to "Don't Ask," despite the very public positions of his wife and daughter on the other side of the issue. I used to know a different John McCain, the guy who proposed comprehensive immigration reform with Ted Kennedy, the guy--a conservative, to be sure, but an honorable one--who refused to indulge in the hateful strictures of his party's extremists. His public fall has been spectacular, a consequence of politics--he "needed" to be reelected--and personal pique. He's a bitter man now, who can barely tolerate the fact that he lost to Barack Obama. But he lost for an obvious reason: his campaign proved him to be puerile and feckless, a politician who panicked when the heat was on during the financial collapse, a trigger-happy gambler who chose an incompetent for his vice president. He has made quite a show ever since of demonstrating his petulance and lack of grace.
What a guy.
It's uncanny how most of his descriptors for McCain sound a lot like how Klein takes out his grudges online.
[See our archive on Joe Klein's bias here.]
Of course, Klein's rage is a bit misplaced.
As I wrote on Saturday, it was ultimately five Democrats, not Republicans, who doomed the DREAM Act.