Just as failed 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney further destroys his legacy with asinine gaffes, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) continues to consciously disown and tarnish decades of distinguished public service in a perpetual quest to appease his increasingly extreme base. The latest iteration of McCain's rote partisanship manifested this week in his strident recriminations of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, over the September 11 Benghazi episode that led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
Over the last several days, McCain, along with fellow Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), repeatedly suggested Rice is involved in a nefarious cover-up, citing incongruities between Rice's initial testimony and the heretofore unclear circumstances of the attack as evidence of a conspiracy. McCain even said Rice is unfit to serve for State, given that she is, according to him, "not very bright." For the record, Rice was Phi Beta Kappa at Stanford and a Rhodes Scholar, while McCain graduated 894/899 at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Responding to the accusations, President Obama rightly defended Rice, saying that she "had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation, is outrageous."
Given his military background and years of Senate experience, including co-chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain is well aware that Rice has no influence over or responsibility for individual U.S. consulates. The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, unsurprisingly, acts as the liaison between the UN and the U.S. and promotes American interests in the international institution. Nowhere in the job description is there a mention of maintaining consulate security.
One also wonders why McCain and Graham are so vehemently attacking Rice when they defended a different Rice ... Condoleezza ... when she was accused of lying about Iraq's nuclear capabilities in 2005. Recall, Condoleezza Rice's faulty intelligence precipitated a largely useless war that has cost 4,486 American lives thus far.
But McCain and his ilk are not casually targeting Susan Rice — she is a top contender to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, and per modern strategy the GOP naturally wants to see that appointment fail. Indeed, once routine Cabinet and judicial confirmation processes are now protracted, tiresome affairs borne of GOP intransigence and an insatiable desire to obstruct the policies of Democrats at every turn. Characterizing Susan Rice as an inept public servant prior to her possible SoS nomination is an adroit tactic that will provide Republicans ammunition for obstructing her confirmation.
McCain is no longer trapped in the inexorable rightward tide of his party. Now, he is a willing participant, engaging in abject political gamemanship to satisfy the demands of his base and conservative colleagues.