What is going on with John McCain? Maybe he just despises Barack Obama so completely that he almost can't help himself. That's one option. Another is that he has decided for whatever reason to finish his Senate career as a full-out tea partier. A third is that he's just a nasty man, which is pretty widely known to be true in Washington.
Hard to say. But this jihad of his against Susan Rice really is about the nastiest thing we've ever seen him do. Rice had nothing to do with security at the Benghazi consulate. Nothing. That just isn't her portfolio. The only thing she had to do with Libya, in any substantive way, is that she worked like a dog to assemble the coalition that toppled Muammar Ghaddafi, and she did an outstanding job at that. Indeed, as Eleanor Clift reported for the Beast back in January, Rice did travel once to Benghazi and was given a hero's welcome there.
All Rice had to do with the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack was that she happened to be the one who was sent out on television that fateful Sunday in September to state the talking points. As the Wall Street Journal has reported, and as I've passed along to you previously, she said what she was told that morning to say, and intelligence was being revised toward a conclusion that the attack was a terrorist act at the very moment that she was on the air.
McCain knows all this. He just wants a scalp, he and Lindsey Graham, over the whole Benghazi thing. And he wants to show he's relevant. The two of them are trying to make do with Kelly Ayotte now in the old Joe Lieberman role, but they've lost their bipartisan cover, which takes their whining and wailing down one notch on the legitmacy big board, and even the new independent coming into the Senate, Angus King, said yesterday that he thought McCain was out of line in attack Rice.
Now let's bring in another Rice, Condi. Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post had the great idea today of comparing how McCain is conducting hmself now vs. what he said when Condi was up for secretary of state in 2005:
[Condi Rice] was confirmed by a vote of 85 to 13, which were the most negative votes cast for a secretary of state in 180 years. (One of those “no” votes was from John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, who is vying with Susan Rice to be the nation’s top diplomat.)
Ironically, the key issue then was Condi Rice’s public use of intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. Now McCain and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) are seizing on Susan Rice’s citing of initial intelligence about the Benghazi attack to disqualify her.
Here’s what Condi Rice said on a Sunday television show in 2002, “We know that he [Saddam Hussein] has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon. The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
No weapons of mass destruction, let alone nuclear weapons, were ever found.
But in 2005, McCain and Graham fiercely defended Condi Rice from Democratic attacks of “lying,” arguing she had been misled by intelligence. “I can only conclude we're doing this for no other reason than because of lingering bitterness at the outcome of the elections,” McCain complained when Condi Rice’s nomination came to a vote.
Amazing. The man needs an intervention. Isn't there anyone who loves him who can tell him what he's doing to what remains of his reputation?