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Monday, February 18, 2013

McCain Holds Nation Hostage to a Grudge

John McCain
As anyone who tries to remember will remember, "Benghazi-gate" was a trumped up scandal designed to deny President Obama reelection. Obviously, it failed. The story was that the White House covered up certain facts that would hurt Obama on the campaign trail. So a narrative was cooked up to explain why this was all a big scandal that the media should give wall-to-wall coverage.

The way the narrative was supposed to go was that the President saw electoral doom in a terrorist attack on a consulate in Benghazi. Why this was supposed to sink his chances isn't clear nor was it ever explained. It just would, OK?

So anyway, the White House colluded with the State Department to hide the terrorist attack and blame it on anti-American rioters -- as if there's any substantial difference here. The scandal's narrative arc had it that a terrorist attack would mean the president would have trouble being reelected, but a riot would mean he wouldn't. Why? Because stop asking so many sensible questions, that's why.

Of course, the president won reelection fairly easily and decisively, despite the fact that this whole terrorist/riot thing was cleared up long before election day. Despite Republicans' best efforts to churn up a big, scary scandal, young "Benghazi-gate" had died. It now exists solely as a zombie. It has to. The problem with made up scandals is that they have to be played out to the bitter end, lest the scandal-mongers be exposed as con artists, charlatans, and liars. The problem with "Benghazi-gate" is that it's shambled along in undead pointlessness far beyond even that end stage -- which, for all practical purposes, it entered when Barack Obama was reelected back in November. It continues to lurch around only because the GOP refuses to bury it, as John McCain demonstrated so well this weekend. Steve Benen has the skinny:


..."Meet the Press" host David Gregory pressed the Republican senator on the unsubstantiated charge that the Obama administration has engaged in a "massive cover-up." Gregory asked a simple question: "A cover-up of what?"

McCain, just a few days after explaining how important it is not to be "disagreeable," became unusually belligerent, asking the host whether he cares about the deaths of four Americans.

Gregory tried to get an answer anyway, responding, "You said there is a cover-up. A cover-up of what?" McCain, unable to think of anything substantive, said, "Of the information concerning the deaths of four brave Americans."

Even for McCain, whose capacity has deteriorated sharply in recent years, this was a pathetic display.

"Remember, McCain has had several months to think about this," Benen says. "He's sat through classified and unclassified briefings. He's participated in a series of congressional hearings. He's (presumably) read the results of independent investigations, and had his own questions answered, verbally and in writing."

John McCain should be (and in all honesty probably is) one of the most informed people in America about what went down at that consulate. Yet he claims some sort of cover up and, when pressed as to what exactly is being covered up, gives an answer pretty much equivalent to "bad stuff, OK?" The man clearly has nothing.

"The exchange on 'Meet the Press' wasn't awkward; it wasn't bizarre; it was alarming," Benen says. That it is.

The other main whipster flogging this long deceased horse is Sen. Lindsey Graham. But Graham at least has a reason -- he's up for reelection and he faces some pretty unfair charges of being a RiNO. The best way to avoid being seen as the dreaded "moderate Republican" is to be Tea Party insane about one big, headline-grabbing issue. The base loves conspiracy theories, so Graham's propping this one up and pretending it's still alive.

As dishonest and deliberately partisan as Graham's reason for perpetuating this "scandal" may be, McCain doesn't even have that excuse. He's just out there having some sort of old man tantrum because he's John McCain and that's what John McCain does. There is no scandal here, no cover up, just John McCain dealing out political payback for a grudge that should've grown cold a long, long time ago. McCain himself spilled the beans on that point.

"But to be honest with you, Neil, it goes back to there’s a lot of ill will towards Senator Hagel because when he was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly and say he was the worst President since Herbert Hoover and said the surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War, which was nonsense," McCain told Fox News' Neil Cavuto last week. "He was anti-his own party and people — people don’t forget that. You can disagree but if you’re disagreeable, then people don’t forget that."

So Benghazi is just a way for McCain to hold up Chuck Hagel's confirmation (both McCain and Graham concede that Hagel's all but officially in, by the way). We're into the Obama administration's second term and McCain's still fighting the battles of the Bush administration's first term. That's not politics, that's personal. And if playing politics with the nominee for Defense Secretary is bad, then giving him the run around because you're just pissy and a jerk is even worse. McCain is holding up the nation's business because of a grudge that began roughly a decade ago. He's not serving the nation's interest. In fact, it could hardly be said he's serving his own, since no one -- himself included -- is going to get anything out of this. He's just nursing a grudge in his shrunken, cobweb-filled heart.

Want a scandal? Here's one: Sen John McCain's blatant abuse of power to punish a man for disagreeing with the neocons. And to make matters worse, McCain is basically punishing Hagel for being right about Iraq.

There's your scandal. It's a shameful one. And it's one the media will completely ignore.


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