What is happening to John McCain? This is a man that many of us who are liberals and Democrats used to admire because of his willingness to be an independent thinker and to work across the aisle in the Senate to accomplish things for the American people. The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform law is just one example of that.
But recently, Senator McCain seems to have become unhinged. His recent attacks on UN Ambassador Susan Rice for her remarks on the Benghazi incident seem so unreasonable and full of venom that it leaves many of us wondering what is happening to him.
This isn't totally new. Ever since his campaign for the Presidency against Barack Obama in 2008, his shocking selection of Sarah Palin for his VP nominee, and his humbling defeat that November, he hasn't seem to be the same person. All I can figure--and obviously it is just speculation on my part--is that he has become embittered by his defeat and can't get over it. It must be difficult knowing that you came so close to being President and then let it slip through your hands.
But, just to give the Senator the benefit of the doubt with regard to this Susan Rice issue, I went back and viewed the interview that she gave to NBC's 'Meet The Press' five days after the Benghazi incident. I had never actually seen it, and so I wanted to see for myself what she said. You can view it below, and the specific section of the interview relating to the Benghazi tragedy runs from the 1:50 to about the 3:40 minute mark (although it's helpful to watch it from the beginning to get the full context).
My take on her interview is that she was giving an articulate and careful response based on the information she had from our intelligence agencies at the time. There was (and is) uncertainty about what motivated the attacks on the Consulate and the CIA station nearby. Clearly, it was an armed attack by "extremist elements", as she says here. Why they did it was uncertain and may never be known for sure. What role the infamous American video played in it is uncertain. What we DO know is that the attack in Benghazi came in the context of simultaneous mob actions across the Middle East in reaction to that video. Whether Benghazi was exactly the same or somewhat different is still an open question.
There was (and is) no cover-up here. Susan Rice said nothing wrong or inaccurate here, based on the current information the administration had.
In other words, the attacks on her from John McCain and the conservative news media are unwarrented and, in my opinion, politically motivated, in an attempt to damage President Obama.
That this is probably true is further evidenced by the fact that yesterday, while an official briefing of the Benghazi incident was being given to the Senate Homeland Security by several national security agencies, instead of attending the briefing to hear the evidence, John McCain decided to skip it so that he could give a news conference in which he continued to slam Susan Rice and President Obama.