As the Republicans’ debt-ceiling crisis has intensified, Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) most noteworthy contribution to the debate came a few weeks ago, when he proudly asserted, “The American people … don’t want compromise.”

Today, on the Senate floor, he took a more sensible line.

If you can’t watch clips online, McCain appeared to be responding to the arguments from some far-right Republicans, including a few of his Senate colleagues, that the debt ceiling cannot be raised until a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution is approved by the House and Senate. McCain, unfortunately, is an ardent BBA supporter, but he nevertheless called the conservative line “bizarro.”

“What is really amazing about this is that some, some members are believing that we can pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in this body with its present representation — and that is foolish,” McCain said. “That is worse than foolish — that is deceiving many of our constituents, by telling them that just because the Majority Leader ‘tabled’ the balanced budget amendment legislation, that somehow through ‘amending and debate,’ we could somehow convince the majority on the other side of the aisle to go along with a balanced budget amendment of the constitution.

“That is not fair. That is not fair to the American people, to hold out and say, ‘We won’t agree to raising the debt limit until we pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.’ It’s unfair; it’s bizarro. And maybe some people who’ve only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that. Others know better.”

I should note for context that some right-wing Republican lawmakers really are making this case — no BBA, no debt-ceiling increase. I believe the clinical term for those folks is “stark raving mad.” GOP leaders have argued that there should be a vote on a BBA to satisfy the right’s demands, which Dems are willing to go along with, but which some House Republicans consider inadequate.

As for the House Republicans prepared to oppose Speaker Boehner’s right-wing budget proposal because it’s not radical enough, McCain added, “This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into GOP nominees.”


Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.