McCain’s Bind


It appears that waterboarding and Republican presidential ambitions may have collided today in the Senate.

At issue is a Democratic measure that would restrict the CIA to using those interrogation methods listed in the Army Field Manual. In other words, it would bar the CIA from employing so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques.

Republicans were expected to use a parliamentary procedure today that would have blocked the measure by requiring a 60-vote minimum to proceed. But here’s where it gets interesting.

Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain opposes waterboarding, which would have put him in the position of voting with the Democrats and against the President on this measure, perhaps giving the Dems the 60 votes necessary to proceed.

So the Republicans scuttled that planned parliamentary maneuver, and the full bill went to a vote a little while ago, barely passing, 51-45. Notably, McCain voted against the bill. One would expect that his publicly stated reason for opposing it will be something other than the anti-waterboarding provision.

The GOP thinking may be that it’s better to have the bill pass and the President veto it, than have the current Republican nominee and the President so publicly at odds.

That sets up an interesting situation when and if a veto override is attempted. But with the two-thirds vote required for an override seemingly out of reach, McCain’s vote may be less crucial.


David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.