John McCain (R-Ariz) has been acting erratically for years now, but things are getting worse. With all the problems confronting the U.S., he has made Susan Rice, current ambassador to the U.N. and possible Obama nominee for Secretary of State, the focus of his increasingly irrational annoyance. He seems to think that she should have substituted her own analysis of the attack in Benghazi Libya for the official CIA briefing. What her own analysis could have been is entirely unclear, nor is it her job description to have one, much less substitute it for official intelligence reports. It is really unclear why he is so obsessively negative toward her.
This is the same John McCain who thought that Condoleeza Rice was just fine, even after she missed all the intelligence warnings preceding 9-11 and was part of the whole Bush Iraq deception. But this didn't stop McCain from further adventures on his new rocking horse. First he announced his implacable opposition to a possible Susan Rice nomination, making vague threats to filibuster it -- in spite of the fact that he knew nothing at that time about the nature of the intelligence briefing she and the administration had been given. Next, he called for a "Watergate"-type investigation of the whole affair -- a request quite properly shot down by Harry Reid as "partisan" posturing. Finally, when the administration offered a two hour press conference last Wednesday on the Benghazi attack, McCain blew it off and instead scheduled a press conference of his own at the same time -- a press conference at which he had nothing to say. CNN published the following account of a follow up on this nonsense:
When CNN approached McCain in a Capitol hallway Thursday morning, the
senator refused to comment about why he missed the briefing, which was
conducted by top diplomatic, military and counter-terrorism officials.
Instead, McCain got testy when pressed to say why he wasn’t there.
“I have no comment about my schedule and I’m not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media,” McCain said.
Asked why he wouldn’t comment, McCain grew agitated: “Because I have
the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to
tell me I can or not?”
When CNN noted that McCain had missed a key meeting on a subject the
senator has been intensely upset about, McCain said, “I’m upset that you
keep badgering me.”
Am I the only one who wonders how John McCain got his reputation for being an expert in military matters? He certainly was a bomber pilot who was shot down over Hanoi and was a POW in N. Vietnam for 6 years. By accounts I have read he acted courageously and honorably during his captivity, but I could find no further special training or education about military matters or foreign affairs in his bio. Shortly after he retired from the military (in 1981) he entered politics. He did serve on various military-oriented committees as a representative and later senator; one could argue that these assignments were the result of his military sacrifices more than any particular expertise. For a conservative he was not unreasonable in his suspicion of military projects, and he did work for normalization of relations with Vietnam. He also took relatively enlightened positions on non-military issues such a campaign reform, energy (cap and trade), climate change, and immigration -- often breaking with his party to do so.
Nevertheless, through it all McCain has been an unrelenting hawk. He, along with lots of others (e.g. John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and nearly all Republicans) supported Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He predicted that the latter would be quickly successful -- a totally wrong prediction he no doubt would have sneered at had it been made by Susan Rice.
Since his unsuccessful presidential race against Obama in 2008, McCain has been increasingly conservative and dyspeptic. Whatever flashes he may have exhibited in the past of a "maverick" nature have largely disappeared, and he now seems old, tired, irrational and bitter: long past the time to call it a career.