Dana Watch: R.I.P., GOP?

Illustration by Bob Aul

The FBI, Secret Service and U.S. intelligence agencies in 2015 blamed sophisticated attacks of computers at the State Department and other sensitive parts of the White House on Russian hackers who were likely working for that country’s President Vladimir Putin.

A year later, after Wikileaks released emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee and other American notables, U.S. intelligence and private-sector analysts concluded the cyber messages had been obtained through hacking originating in Russia.

That prompted Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee to call for an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the presidential election. The committee’s chairman, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), said on Dec. 31, 2016, that stronger sanctions must be imposed on Russia, which the U.S. was already penalizing financially over invasions of sovereign nations and the suspicious deaths of Putin foes. “When you attack a country,” McCain told Reuters, “it’s an act of war.”

Let us compare that stance by McCain, who was laid to rest last week as a genuine American patriot, with what Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s House plant) was saying in December 2016. Rumored to be a Secretary of State candidate for then-incoming President Donald Trump, the congressman accused a reporter from the former Soviet satellite state Moldova of being “biased.” Why? Because the journo asked Rohrabacher about Russia’s human-rights abuses, which he labeled “baloney.”

Asked the following day about Rohrabacher’s stand, McCain replied, “There’s a lunatic fringe in every organization.”

Their differences emerged again this year after Trump’s eyebrow-raising news conference during the July 16 summit with Putin.

“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory,” McCain said.

Meanwhile, Rohrabacher told Bloomberg television, “The Russians . . . found it in their interest to meddle in our election. But the point is, we meddle in their elections. We meddle all over the world at a much higher rate than what Moscow does.”

The McCain-Rohrabacher rift went back years. In early 2008, Rohrabacher endorsed Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential primary over McCain. “He’s been the enemy of those of us who have stemmed the flow of illegals into our country,” Rohrabacher said of McCain, who would go on to win the GOP nomination.

That November, when Barack Obama won the presidency, Rohrabacher told the dejected crowd at the Orange County GOP election-night party in Irvine, “John McCain did not represent the heart and soul of the Republican Party. We are the heart and soul of the Republican Party.”

This November, we’ll find out if the heart and soul of the Republican Party is represented by McCain or Rohrabacher.

Got Dana Watch fodder? Email mcoker@ocweekly.com.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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