McCain lost in a fog of partisan rage

Updated
 

Looking back at the tragic and deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last fall, we know quite a bit about what happened. We also know, thanks to an independent investigation, that “Republican charges of a cover-up” were “pure fiction.”

But as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) argued yesterday, he can’t be bothered with facts – he has a partisan vendetta to pursue.

For those who can’t watch clips online, “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. 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.

And yet after all of this, McCain is not only ignorant of the basics, he doesn’t understand his own conspiracy theory. The senator, after pondering the issue since September, still believes there’s an elaborate “cover-up,” but doesn’t know why he thinks this.

The exchange on “Meet the Press” wasn’t awkward; it wasn’t bizarre; it was alarming.

This was the point at which it might have dawned on everyone watching, including journalists who still consider the senator an credible on foreign policy and national security, “Good lord, John McCain has no idea what he’s talking about.”

I hate to be a stickler for such things, but as a rule, when the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee accuses the White House on national television of orchestrating a cover-up as part of a terrorist attack, it’s not too much to ask that the senator have some idea what he’s talking about.

But in this case, McCain is simply lost in a fog of his own partisan rage. At this point, the man doesn’t understand what he doesn’t understand, and worse, he just doesn’t care. McCain no longer thinks it matters that he can’t back up his accusations; he simply wants to keep making them. And if you press him for details he should understand, the increasingly unhinged senator will suggest you’re indifferent to the deaths of Americans at terrorists’ hands.

Why? Because he’s John McCain.

Incidentally, this was McCain’s fourth Sunday show appearance of the new year – that’s four appearances in seven weeks – which suggests he’ll have another opportunity to answer similar questions in a national setting very soon.

Benghazi and John McCain

McCain lost in a fog of partisan rage

Updated