It wasn't terribly surprising when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lashed out at Colin Powell yesterday, after the retired four-star general and former Secretary of State announced his support for President Obama. McCain, by all accounts, remains deeply bitter about Powell's 2008 Obama endorsement, and the senator has a history of holding petty grudges.
But while McCain's initial outbursts were just kind of sad, his follow-up complaints today are increasingly bizarre.
Speaking to National Review's Robert Costa on Friday, he said, "Colin Powell, interestingly enough, said that Obama got us out of Iraq. But it was Colin Powell, with his testimony before the U.N. Security Council, that got us into Iraq."McCain blasted Powell on Fox News Radio's "Kilmeade & Friends" Thursday for endorsing Obama for reelection. "Well, I'm just saddened because, you know, I used to be a great admirer of Colin Powell," he said. "We were friends. I think one of the sad aspects of his career is going to the United Nations Security Council and telling them things about Iraq that were absolutely false."
Look, there's absolutely no doubt that Powell's U.N. presentation was the low point of his professional career. The Bush/Cheney administration used him, and sent him to present the world with a bogus case for an unnecessary war. The consequences were nothing short of tragic on a historic scale.
For Democratic and/or progressive critics of Powell to reference this horrific mistake makes sense. For John McCain to reference this to condemn Powell is bonkers.
On Capitol Hill, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq had no greater cheerleader than the senior senator from Arizona.
As a friend reminded me this afternoon, when Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) issued an extraordinary warning on the chamber floor before the war began, it was McCain who boasted, "When the people of Iraq are liberated, we will again have written another chapter in the glorious history of the United States of America."
Powell helped get us into Iraq and delivered a notorious presentation to the United Nations Security Council, but doesn't McCain consider that worthy of praise?
Powell now regrets both the conflict and his role in it. Until McCain can say the same, he isn't the one with credibility on the subject.