Please stop waiting for the ‘old’ McCain

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) delivered some noteworthy remarks on the Senate floor yesterday, mocking some of his own party’s more extreme members. You know what that means, right? Time for another media swoon.

Here’s the Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza today, with a headline reads, “McCain the maverick (again).”

Arizona Sen. John McCain’s floor speech on Wednesday denouncing the negotiating tactics of some tea party-aligned Members of Congress raises the question as to whether the famed maverick is back to his old tricks. […]

McCain’s comments (and the controversy they caused ) raise an intriguing question: Has McCain the straight-talking maverick been reborn?

And here’s the New York Times, yesterday:

Is the old John McCain back?

Stop. Really, just stop. There’s just no need for this.

For years, the media ran so many “Whatever happened to the old John McCain?” pieces, they were hard to count. The reason was obvious — media figures who adored one of the previous personas of the Arizona senator were dismayed to see what had become of one of their favorite politicians.

In time, those pieces ran their course. Nearly everyone came to realize that McCain circa 1999-2001 no longer exists, and he’s been replaced by a bitter, belligerent conservative.

My fear has long been we’d see a new push from the media. Instead of figures asking, “Whatever happened to the old John McCain?” we’ll be confronted with a bunch of “Maybe the old John McCain will come back to us?” pieces.

Which leads us, apparently, to this week.

I sincerely wish the media would show some restraint before signing up again for the McCain fan club. Just since the midterms, McCain has broken his word on the New START treaty and inexplicably voted against it; filibustered the DREAM Act he promised three years ago to help pass; lost his temper railing against gays in the military; blamed wildfires on undocumented immigrants without evidence; and assured the nation that Americans “don’t want compromise” on the debt ceiling.

That last one was just a few weeks ago. Reporters shouldn’t have forgotten it this quickly.

“Is the old John McCain back?” I suppose anything’s possible, but the question itself strikes me as a little silly. Literally every move we’ve seen from McCain for the last several years suggests that previous persona is gone, and it’s not coming back. He’s angrier, more partisan, more conservative, more dishonest, and more willing to abandon every meaningful policy position he’s taken than ever before.

“Has McCain the straight-talking maverick been reborn?” All he did was defend a far-right budget plan against criticism from even-further-to-the-right Republicans.

It’s time for the media to pick a new hero. This one isn’t coming back.