Senator John McCain has forged a reputation in Washington as a straight takin', no nonsense kinda guy, unafraid to ask the tough questions and willing to go it alone if necessary. Sadly, his reputation bears no resemblance to reality anymore. McCain now carves a pathetic figure - a irate loose cannon who lost his political instinct years ago. The former Presidential candidate now wades aimlessly into issues he doesn't fully grasp, launching bitter attacks on rivals and ruining what was left of his independent reputation in Washington. The 76 year old has got nastier and more conservative in recent years, and seems determined to join his party in driving off the cliff of electability. For reasons best known to himself, McCain is still flogging Benghazi conspiracy theories long after he helped block Susan Rice's nomination to Secretary of State, and long after it was politically relevant. Here was McCain on David Gregory's show on Sunday discussing the episode that everyone else thought had gone to bed long ago:
JOHN MCCAIN: There's-- so many questions about Benghazi. We've had two movies-- about getting bin Laden and we don't even know who the people were who were evacuated from-- the consulate the next day after the attack. So there are many, many questions. And we have had-- a massive cover-up on the part of--
DAVID GREGORY: But a massive cover-up of what?
DAVID GREGORY: --I mean, Susan Ri-- wait a minute-- Susan Rice said there was a lot of--
JOHN MCCAIN: Do you care--
DAVID GREGORY: --confusion.
JOHN MCCAIN: Do you care--
DAVID GREGORY: I'm asking you--
JOHN MCCAIN: Do you care to--
DAVID GREGORY: --what is the Republican way--
JOHN MCCAIN: I'm asking you, do you care-- I-- I'm-- I'm asking you, do you care whether four Americans died? Or do you-- the reasons for that? And-- and shouldn't pe-- people be held accountable for the fact that four Americans died--
DAVID GREGORY: Well, what you said was the cover-up-- A cover-up of what?
And on and it went. McCain told Gregory that he would be "Glad to send you a list of the questions that have not been answered," then stated that he wanted to know, "What did the president do and who did he talk to the night of the attack on Benghazi?" (According to the White House, Obama did not make any phone calls to the Libyan embassy but was updated throughout the night while Hillary Clinton - the Secretary of State - made calls to the embassy). The other major question McCain thought hadn't been answered was why the people who were evacuated from the consulate not interviewed the next day (the White House waited until the FBI interviewed the evacuees), and why the President continued to say he didn't know whether it was a terrorist attack "for two weeks" (Obama actually referred to it as "An act of terror" the day after the attack).
Apparently, this constitutes a 'Massive Cover Up'.
The details of this supposed cover up are nothing short of ridiculous. There are exhaustive timelines of all the events surrounding the attacks on Benghazi and the White House's response (Think Progress has a very good one), and it is abundantly clear that while mistakes were made, the Obama administration acted on the best information it had and did not at any point in time try to hide anything from the public. After doing a lengthy Q & A on the events himself, Kevin Drum of Mother Jones concluded:
There were conflicting reports on the ground, and that was reflected in conflicting and sometimes confused reports from the White House. I don't think anyone would pretend that the Obama's administration's response to Benghazi was anywhere near ideal. Nevertheless, the fact is that their statements were usually properly cautious......It's true that it took about 10 days for all this to really shake out, but let's be honest: 10 days isn't all that long to figure out what really happened during a violent and chaotic attack halfway around the world. I get that it's a nice opportunity for Republicans to score some political points in the runup to an election, but really, there's not much there there.
So why is McCain still out there fanning the flames? It's a question that has no logical answers, and probably has more to do with McCain's mental state than anything else. He tried and failed to become President twice, and in his last campaign showed signs of serious decline. He failed to vet Sarah Palin and completely fell apart when the economy imploded - two major blunders that showed he was no longer able to make good judgment calls. After losing to Obama, his political instincts seems to have declined even further, joining in with Right wing conspiracy theorists at every turn. McCain has been particularly harsh on Obama's foreign policy positions - a remarkable fact when you consider how hawkish the President has been while in office (anyone remember the death of Osama Bin Laden or Obama's drone policy?). McCain seems determined to undermine the President even at the expense of ridiculing himself. And the only explanation is that at the heart of it, McCain is a rather nasty piece of work.