There was a time when John McCain wasn’t just a doddering old punchline to a joke he’s never in on. 12 years ago, McCain rode his Straight Talk Express through the hills of New Hampshire representing a different breed of Republican. He was a man who spoke his mind, bucked party lines and embraced his somewhat overblown reputation as a maverick. Throughout his ill-fated first attempt at the presidency and for a couple years afterwards, McCain championed legislation that placed his responsibilities to the people above those to his party. He was one of only two GOP senators to vote against the Bush Tax Cuts in 2001 and introduced the Climate Stewardship Act with Senator Joe Lieberman in an unsuccessful effort to create a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But, above all, his biggest legislative legacy is the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which cut back on the influence of soft money and outside spending in US elections until Citizens United rendered it toothless.
That was one decade and a thousand mea culpas ago. The John McCain that we saw in the 2008 presidential election and who we now see bumbling about the halls of Congress like a fugitive from a nursing home bears little resemblance to the maverick of 2000. Having sold his soul to GOP brain trust, McCain switched his opinions on pretty much anything he’d ever stood for in his previous political life, voting to extend the Bush Tax Cuts in 2006, supporting Arizona’s draconian anti-immigration legislation and even voting against a bill that would have banned waterboarding, an odd decision for a man who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for 5½ years.
But it was only after being soundly beaten by Barack Obama in 2008 that the senior Senator from Arizona left the reservation and embarked on a journey towards becoming a Rabelaisian representation of conservative buffoonery—a journey that seems to have ended with the recent manufactured scandal surrounding UN Ambassador Susan Rice and the attacks on Benghazi earlier this fall. McCain and his Republican colleagues have been haranguing Ambassador Rice for months now because she repeated information to the American people that represented the most reliable evidence that the US intelligence community had gathered and which turned out to be incorrect. After a 25 year career in Congress, McCain has decided that this is going to be his white whale: a woman who “misled” the American people by repeating official CIA intelligence 5 days after a chaotic international incident.
Earlier on Tuesday, Ambassador Rice went so far as to meet with McCain and his fellow Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and Kelly Ayotte (NH) on Capitol Hill to discuss the matter with them. Yet, instead of serving to assuage any fears they might have had coming into the meeting, Rice left Washington today facing an even stauncher opposition than she had when the day began. All three senators echoed that they were still troubled by the matter and not any closer to getting the nebulous answers they’ve been seeking. Not wishing to be outdone in his imbecility, McCain went on Fox News to talk to Neil Cavuto, where he expressed his feelings on the situation, remarking that, “The interesting thing is…we knew within hours, all of the details when we got Bin Laden…now here we are, ten weeks later…and finally our Ambassador to the United Nations has now said she gave false information concerning this tragedy.”
Well, John, there’s a reason why we knew the details about the Bin Laden raid in Pakistan almost immediately while we were searching through the rubble of Benghazi for weeks before we had a solid idea of what happened. It’s because we were the ones who were carrying out the attacks in Pakistan you daft, Liberty Medical eligible piece of crap! We knew all of the details because the Obama administration had just spent 2 years gathering intelligence and tracking anything with a pulse near the Hindu Kush mountains so we could kill that Jihadist Tim Burton character from hell. We knew what happened because we were the ones who made it happen. In Benghazi, we were the ones who were attacked, on the 11th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, at the same time some maladjusted fundamentalist had released a movie on YouTube depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a philandering simpleton.
The idea that John McCain has put forth that, “there is no doubt five days later what this attack was and for”, is patently false. The talking points that Susan Rice gave on the Sunday talk show circuit on September 16th were the same as those released by the Director of National Intelligence the day before and were vetted by both the CIA and FBI. Former-CIA Director David Petraeus has testified to this fact in a closed hearings to both congressional intelligence committees and has reiterated that there was no White House interference or political agenda behind any corrections made to Ambassador Rice’s remarks. It was bad intelligence, it was a mistake, and Susan Rice admitted as much to the three Republican senators in their meeting Tuesday.
Politicians and athletes are the same in many respects, especially when it comes to knowing when to hang it up. It is a rare thing to find a ballplayer or congressman who can recognize when they’re on the downslope of their careers and have the courage to call it a day before age and fatigue run them ragged. Sure, you’ll get guys who retire at 30 while they’re still in the quickest thing in the world on two legs, but more often than not an athlete will stick around when they’re half a step too slow and much too old. Watching John McCain bloviate on Fox News about perceived slights and trivialities is like watching Shaq lumber up and down the court in a Celtics jersey, barely able to jump due to bad knees and an ever-expanding gut: a little funny, but mostly pathetic.
Categories: US Politics