U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) talks with reporters after briefing by military officials about the prisoner exchange that freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl at the U.S. Capitol on June 10, 2014 in Washington, DC.
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McCain’s misplaced boast: ‘I predicted what was going to happen in Iraq’

It’s hardly a secret that the Sunday shows extend invitations to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) with almost comical frequency. Yesterday, however, CNN’s Candy Crowley took a moment to explain why.
As her latest interview with the senator was just getting underway, the host said, “Senator McCain, lots of people, when we have you on, often say, ‘Why do you have him on so often?’ And we say because he answers our questions, because he expresses his views quite clearly.”
I suppose that’s true, though this seems to set an awfully low bar. There are 534 other members of Congress, nearly all of whom were elected after answering questions and expressing their views clearly to voters. As of yesterday, only two House Republicans have received more Sunday-show appearances. That’s 532 members of Congress that have received fewer invitations.
Nevertheless, when it came time for the Arizona Republican to express his views quite clearly, Crowley asked whether there’s anything President Obama could do on foreign policy that McCain might approve of. The senator said he supported “a number of things” the president has done – he didn’t specify – before immediately condemning him again.
“If I look at the world in January of 2009, and I look at the world today, I can tell you this, Candy. It’s very, very different. And I believe that’s because, when the United States of America withdraws from leadership from the world, it creates a vacuum, and bad things happen.
“And, by the way, I predicted what was going to happen in Iraq…. This is turning into, as we had predicted for a long time, a regional conflict which does pose a threat to the security of the United States of America, and launching three strikes around a place where a horrible humanitarian crisis is taking place, meanwhile, ISIS continues to make gains everywhere, yes, is clearly very, very ineffective, to say the least.”
I can appreciate why McCain seems like an easy target – perhaps too easy – for ridicule, but so long as he’s going to boast about the value of his Iraq “predictions,” while being praised for the “clarity” he brings to foreign-policy debates, it’s probably worth revisiting the senator’s abysmal track record.
As Rachel recently noted on the show, following a round of McCain interviews on U.S. policy in Iraq, “Let the record show, John McCain was wrong about Iraq and the war in Iraq, in almost every way that a person can be wrong about something like that. He was wrong about Saddam having weapons. He was wrong about how long the war would take. He was wrong about how big the war would be. He famously said that as far as he was concerned, he thought that maybe Saddam sent the anthrax attacks. John McCain was wrong about whether there might ever be any trouble between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq.”
What’s more, following up on an item from June, our pals at “All in with Chris Hayes” did a nice job pulling together some of the evidence documenting how wrong McCain has been about U.S. policy in Iraq.
Of course, this is a small sampling. I’m also reminded of this Frank Rich piece from 2009.

[McCain] made every wrong judgment call that could be made after 9/11. It’s not just that he echoed the Bush administration’s constant innuendos that Iraq collaborated with Al Qaeda’s attack on America. Or that he hyped the faulty W.M.D. evidence to the hysterical extreme of fingering Iraq for the anthrax attacks in Washington. Or that he promised we would win the Iraq war “easily.” Or that he predicted that the Sunnis and the Shiites would “probably get along” in post-Saddam Iraq because there was “not a history of clashes” between them.

What’s more mortifying still is that McCain was just as wrong about Afghanistan and Pakistan. He routinely minimized or dismissed the growing threats in both countries over the past six years, lest they draw American resources away from his pet crusade in Iraq.

Two years after 9/11 he was claiming that we could “in the long term” somehow “muddle through” in Afghanistan. (He now has the chutzpah to accuse President Obama of wanting to “muddle through” there.) Even after the insurgency accelerated in Afghanistan in 2005, McCain was still bragging about the “remarkable success” of that prematurely abandoned war. In 2007, some 15 months after the Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf signed a phony “truce” ceding territory on the Afghanistan border to terrorists, McCain gave Musharraf a thumb’s up. As a presidential candidate in the summer of 2008, McCain cared so little about Afghanistan it didn’t even merit a mention among the national security planks on his campaign Web site.

He takes no responsibility for any of this.

Let’s also not forget this Maddow Show segment from November 2012, in which Rachel explained, “Even if you’re just in Congress, even if you’re just the opposition, you need to know what you’re talking about. You need to have a basic level of competence. And doing what John McCain says is not a reasonable substitution for basic competence on this subject. Pick somebody else.”
Remember, the point isn’t to kick a guy when he’s down. McCain being wrong about Iraq is hardly new – on the contrary, given how woefully misguided the senator has been, it’s a dog-bites-man story.
Rather, the significance is the incongruity between an influential policymaker making a series of woefully wrong predictions and that same policymaker boasting on national television, “And, by the way, I predicted what was going to happen in Iraq.”
He really, really didn’t. If McCain doesn’t want to be the subject of ridicule, he’ll stop bragging about the one issue he flubbed so very badly.