Now, however, John McCain is making progressive grumblings again. He's talking about a seismic shift in US politics and the inevitability of a third party.
"Unless both parties change, then I think that it's an inevitability. We aren't doing anything for the people," McCain said in blunt remarks at the Reuters Washington Summit.
Americans, he said, are frustrated by sluggish economic growth that has depleted their incomes while corporate executives take in massive salary bonuses.
As for his own party, McCain expressed frustration that Republicans have not concentrated enough on the concerns of Americans struggling to make ends meet.
"The party, I think, has got to be a lot more responsive to the plight of the people," said McCain, who lost the presidential race to Barack Obama three years ago this month.
"I think we have to weigh in far more heavily on the side of things like reforming the tax code. If we reform the tax code, then many of these large corporations that paid no taxes last year ... maybe they would."
Could it be that America's self-defeating, hard-assed, hard-right nightmare is nearing its end? We can only hope and pray.