Last week, a mentally unstable Tunisian man took a refrigerator truck down a beachfront street in Nice, France, killing 84 innocent people, including many children, and wounding 200 others. It was a horrific, gut-wrenching scene, though French investigators said today no links have emerged tying the killer to terrorist networks.
But as BuzzFeed reports, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wants people to hold President Obama responsible for the actions of the madman.
Arizona Sen. John McCain says President Obama "allowed" the Bastille Day attack in Nice that left at least 84 people dead to happen, blaming his policies towards ISIS for failing "America and the world." "As far as the tragedy in France is concerned, obviously this is an act of mayhem and despicable," the Arizona senator told KTAR's 92.3FM's Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Friday. "I also have to tell you -- our prayers are with the families, obviously, and the French people -- but I also have to tell you, that as long as we have a leadership in this country -- the president of the United States -- who allowed this to happen, his policies are directly responsible for ISIS and ISIS is responsible for these attacks."
McCain, who cheered when Obama withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq -- as part of an agreement the Bush/Cheney administration reached with Iraq -- went on to whine about the president's decision "to pull everybody out of Iraq."
Overlooking the thousands of airstrikes Obama has ordered on ISIS targets, and ISIS's shrinking territory, McCain added that the president has no "willingness to attack this evil."
McCain, who's been almost hilariously wrong about nearly every major national security challenge in recent decades, also took this opportunity to also boast, "I predicted everything that has happened."
I realize that ISIS eventually claimed credit for the bloodshed in Nice, and the terrorists would love it if everyone agreed to play along with their propaganda agenda, but there's no reason for McCain to endorse ISIS's rhetoric. The evidence connecting ISIS to last week's attack does not yet exist, so the senator's assessment is based on nothing but his own desire to blame the United States for the mass murders.
Which unfortunately keeps happening. As we recently discussed, just days after the massacre in Orlando, McCain insisted that President Obama was “directly responsible” for the deadliest mass-shooting in national history. The senator later walked that back, but only a little – clarifying that America’s foreign policy, not America’s president, should be blamed for the murders.
Soon after, McCain told a Pakistani news organization that the world should blame the United States for violence in Afghanistan.
It's part of an unnerving pattern. Two years ago, when Ukrainian separatists shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing 298 people, McCain declared – literally the next day – that President Obama’s “cowardly administration” bore responsibility for the attack.
Circling back to our previous coverage, as a substantive matter, McCain’s sincere belief that perpetual wars prevent violence is a misguided approach to foreign policy and national security. But in this case, there’s a rhetorical angle that matters nearly as much: the Republican senator is letting his contempt for President Obama get the better of him, to the point that McCain, without regard for reason or consequence, keeps blaming the United States for evil acts around the globe.
As regular readers may recall, in 1984, during the Republican National Convention, Jeane Kirkpatrick delivered a speech that included a catchphrase she repeated five times: “They always blame America first.” Referring specifically to Democrats and the left, she went on to condemn the “blame-America-first crowd.”
It was an ugly line of attack, but it caught on and became a favorite of the right, which still uses the line from time to time.
There’s no point in casually throwing around such obnoxious attacks on other Americans’ patriotism, and it certainly shouldn’t be directed at people like John McCain, who served their country heroically and sacrificed so much.
The senator and his colleagues should pause, however, to appreciate that the more they instinctively blame the United States for every international crisis, the more they open the door to the toxic criticism they once reserved for their rivals.