Claire McCaskill, the former Democratic senator from Missouri, was too liberal to survive last year's election challenge from Trump loyalist Josh Hawley, who is now representing the Show Me State. But McCaskill, whose resume includes work as a county prosecutor, state representative, and state auditor, was known in the Senate as a moderate with her finger on the public pulse and a willingness to compromise. She has said she believes that the center is where the most valuable legislative work gets done.
A Bloomberg column after the election reported on McCaskill's assessment of politics in Washington. She said the news media had become part of the problem. She pointed particularly at MSNBC and Fox, which she said were aiming at "the people making the noise".
That's why it was a surprise to learn in January that MSNBC had hired her as a political analyst and commentator.
Good for MSNBC, which often manifests a liberal bias as blatant as the conservative bias on Fox. Consider MSNBC's head-in-the sand reporting on the ongoing influx of Central American asylum-seekers.
Such authoritative figures as Jeh Johnson, secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama administration, have expressed alarm that the mass migration has burgeoned into a crisis. Our policies for administering asylum cases are so dysfunctional that they are de facto invitations to come, with migrants confident that they will be released into the vastness of the country. But MSNBC seems to think that we should welcome all those who want to come and that those who think otherwise are Trumpian bigots.
On Thursday, the crew of MSNBC's Morning Joe program was talking about the border chaos in its normal tone of "no worries here, except for the cruelties emanating from the White House." But fortunately Claire McCaskill was on the set. With her characteristic civility, she begged to differ.
I do think we have to acknowledge that there is a real issue of how many people are showing up at the border right now. I think our numbers of the last month are the highest since 2007. We've topped 100,000 people a month for several months. The system is being overwhelmed. I think all of us can agree on that.
If only we could, senator. If only we could.
McCaskill went on to raise questions that many of us have been asking out of dismay at the fecklessness of both the Trump administration and the Congress. "What I don't understand is why there hasn't been more urgency about surging resources for the judicial process," she said. "If the judicial process occurs quickly, then asylum is determined. And if it's valid, they stay in this country. And if it's not, they have to go back."
Such common sense was characteristic of McCaskill's tenure in the Senate. May she bring it often to MSNBC.