Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

October 11, 2009

IF IT'S SUNDAY, IT'S PRESIDENT MCCAIN.... A couple of days ago, Atrios tweeted, "Huzzah! President John McCain will be on my teevee on Sunday." I hoped he was kidding. He wasn't.

On today's episode of CNN's "State of the Union," viewers can tune in to find yet another Sunday interview with last year's unsuccessful presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). For those keeping score, this will be McCain's 14th Sunday morning appearance since President Obama's inauguration in January. That's 38 Sundays, for an average of a McCain appearance every 2.7 weeks.

Since the president took office, McCain has been on "Meet the Press" twice (July 12 and March 29), "Face the Nation" three times (August 30, April 26, and February 8), "This Week" three times (September 27, August 23, and May 10), and "Fox News Sunday" three times (July 2, March 8, and January 25). His appearance on "State of the Union" today will be his third visit since February (October 11, August 2, and February 15).

Not bad for a senator in the minority, who isn't in the party leadership, who has no role in any important negotiations, and who has offered no significant pieces of legislation.

The interview, as I understand it, was pre-recorded on Friday, which is a shame. I would have liked to see John King ask the Arizona senator about Frank Rich's column today, which emphasized McCain's record of being consistently wrong about what's alleged to be his signature issue.

To appreciate this crowd's spotless record of failure, consider its noisiest standard-bearer, John McCain. He 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. Asked by Katie Couric last week about our failures in Afghanistan, McCain spoke as if he were an innocent bystander: "I think the reason why we didn't do a better job on Afghanistan is our attention -- either rightly or wrongly -- was on Iraq." As Tonto says to the Lone Ranger, "What do you mean 'we,' white man?"

Along with his tribunes in Congress and the punditocracy, Wrong-Way McCain still presumes to give America its marching orders. With his Senate brethren in the Three Amigos, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, he took to The Wall Street Journal's op-ed page to assert that "we have no choice" but to go all-in on Afghanistan -- rightly or wrongly, presumably -- just as we had in Iraq. Why? "The U.S. walked away from Afghanistan once before, following the Soviet collapse," they wrote. "The result was 9/11. We must not make that mistake again."

This shameless argument assumes -- perhaps correctly -- that no one in this country remembers anything.

Least of all the bookers for the Sunday morning shows.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (52)

Bookmark and Share

Well , at least cheney and brood are less visible .

Posted by: FRP on October 11, 2009 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's track record of being completely and utterly wrong about "thewarronterra" simply extends his track record of being completely and utterly wrong about every single thing he's ever done in his pathetic useless life.

Posted by: gypsy howell on October 11, 2009 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

We need two things added to the healthcare debate. First we medication for selective amensia researched. Secondly for health insurance to pay for the medication.

Posted by: Dave on October 11, 2009 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

McCain missed his calling- he should have been a TV weatherman. Only job where you get paid to be wrong all the time with no consequences.

Posted by: johnnymags on October 11, 2009 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Those who get history wrong are bound to repeat it. Our fates seem to be determined by our gross mass enterprise of rewarding human fallibility. Can we ever break free from "group think" that keeps us on this course of choosing among all the bad choices? Is there not another branch we can take or have we collectively snuffed out all alternatives? The Sunday morning shows should be labeled the "Losties".

Posted by: lou on October 11, 2009 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

You know why McCain keeps getting all these gigs? Because he guarantees attention. Some people watch because they voted for him and they are actually incapable of wrapping their heads around the fact that the black guy won. And others will pay attention because the progressive blogosphere will throw its collective, predictable hissy fit about how often he's on the TV.

Let it go. You know what I take away from McCain's grand tour of Sunday morning shows? That he has just about every Sunday free because he's not President. And that makes me feel better.

Posted by: Bernard Gilroy on October 11, 2009 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Ah yes the McCain threesome, the closest any of them came to war was McCain, he sat it out in a prison where he was a trophy prisoner after disobeying orders and crashing his plane. Little Lindsay served for a short time in the judge advocates office - Lieberman - not so much.These three have no more interest in how to keep our foot soldiers safe while they try to do the job that has been thrust upon them than Rush Limbaugh does. He did serve gallantly didn't he?)

Posted by: JS on October 11, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

What really concerns me here, is.............how would Peggy Noonan say it............the public over-exposure threatens his message. I mean a senator, just like a president, shouldn't be too visible, it becomes boring and undermines the office. Cheers.

Posted by: tempered optimism on October 11, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, true this is too much with no value, please perhaps you could do a tweet petition with your workmates something like:

Memo to John King etal - On Nov. 4, 2008 The People voted John McCain 'overexposed' and 'unqualified' please Never on Sundays! 

Sorry I am on new mobile and have no clue how to format at the moment.

Siku njema

Posted by: Mawazo on October 11, 2009 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

John McCain?
Who's he?

Posted by: hopeful on October 11, 2009 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

You people should be honored that President John McCain takes time out each Sunday tell you the god damn truth about what's happening in the world. You should just stfu and listen...

Posted by: neill on October 11, 2009 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

The mechanics of TV explain why McCain's on these shows so often. The bookers and producers know he's always available and will say "yes" when asked. Many of our other fine public officials have lives.

Posted by: JMG on October 11, 2009 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Does any one know what game DeMint is playing in Honduras, he is going against Obama by supporting the rebel government and is also blocking Obama's ambassador to Brazil.Is he perhaps getting money from that region or just trying to block anything Obama does?

Posted by: JS on October 11, 2009 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe the man gives great head. I mean, really, who gives a shit what he does ? Nobody has to watch the asshole, do they ?

Posted by: rbe1 on October 11, 2009 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Who the hell is Frank Rich? Did he fight in Veet-nam? Was he a POW? Is he an elected politician?

John McCain is all of the above- and lots more!

-I rest my (sorry ass) case. . .

Posted by: DAY on October 11, 2009 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

JS, that's an entirely unfair characterization of McCain. For all the bad things one can say about him, characterizing him as "sitting out" the war as a prisoner is completely unjustifiable. He was an entirely legitimate member of the military (questions of quality aside) and he suffered far more than most during his service. Save the contempt re military service for the hypocritical chickenhawks who deserve it: Limbaugh, Cheney, Bush, etc., etc.

Posted by: N.Wells on October 11, 2009 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

I can find no evidence that Frank Rich ever dropped bombs on anyone in his whole life --ergo: who cares what he thinks.

Posted by: neill on October 11, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

When the Democrats held the White House under Clinton and controlled the representative branch, the media talked most to Democrats with a minority of Republicans for balance. When the Republicans took over, it took a month or so for the media to shift their habits of going reflexively to Democrats for their comments, to reflecting Republican dominance. However, the shift back doesn't seem to be happening, which at this point I attribute largely to rampant corporatism and conservative bias on the part of mainstream media, rather than simple laziness and habit.

Questions of balance aside, I'm not unhappy that McCain is the Republican who is getting the most airtime. He's a fool, he's not doing the Republicans much good beyond being an annoyance to the rest of us, and he's soaking up airtime that could be publicizing some other even viler Republican who could have actual significance in the future.

Posted by: N.Wells on October 11, 2009 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

re McCain's credentials. He was a grunt in the war. He possessed rank sufficient to fly aircraft. While I have no argument with the man's character as a POW, I do take exception to the idea that he possesses any kind of special or extensive strategic military expertise. Such expertise does not go along with the rank of a fighter pilot, so that McCain's judgements about military policy have no particular value at a strategic level.

Posted by: rbe1 on October 11, 2009 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the Iraq war index from 11/03 through 8/09 and seems to be well sourced.


Page 6 from 8/09 index details "ENEMY-INITIATED ATTACKS AGAINST THE COALITION AND ITS PARTNERS, BY WEEK". It appears to be slightly below levels during 2004. Your mileage may vary.

Posted by: Dave on October 11, 2009 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

@Neill-"I can find no evidence that Frank Rich ever dropped bombs on anyone in his whole life --ergo: who cares what he thinks."

Seems he just dropped a bomb on McCain....lol. There's a reason why McCain was not selected for the Senate Intel Committee and Frank Rich just outlined it. McCain doesn't have intelligence.

Posted by: Dave on October 11, 2009 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Who's the celebrity now???

Posted by: John McFame on October 11, 2009 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

What we need is a comparison with appearances made by other failed presidential candidates in the year following the election. What about Kerry, Gore, etc.?

Posted by: Xenos on October 11, 2009 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Sad to say, but at this point in the GOP history, McCain represents the most moderate and reasoned voice in that party. Otherwise, you're left with the Teabaggers and the Birthers, and that would only drive more reasonable people away from the party of (bad) ideas.

Posted by: LewScannon on October 11, 2009 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

In the days of yore (circa Goldwater) we had two wings of the Republican Party: The Conservatives and the CountryClub Republicans.

Things are the same today, just the names are different: The Crazy Republicans and the Stupid Republicans. . .

Posted by: DAY on October 11, 2009 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

@Dave, and now, for at least a year, anybody with half a brain attached to one good eye and one good ear knows the relative stoopidity of John McCain. He was a complete and daily embarassment campaigning for the presidency ("Where are you, Joe?")

But the corporate media keeps running this shameful spectacle of political incompetence week after week after week.

which is to say: it doesnt matter what goes on the teevee for people to sit and stare at it...just so long as it is some spectacle or other...

Posted by: neill on October 11, 2009 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Lefty bloggers and other ironists, of which the interwebs boasts thousands, should fashion some sort of awards program for the msm Sunday shows that repeatedly and numbingly expose us to this tedious old man and his walking-dead ideas.

Posted by: buddy66 on October 11, 2009 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

I stopped watching anything John King does. He absolutely idolizes McCain and that has been evident for years. He routinely gives him a platform to spew his views, which Frank Rich rightly points out, have been consistently wrong.

I like the comment, "now who's the celebrity?"..Perfect.

Posted by: Joy on October 11, 2009 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

In a rare, off camera shot, John King was just seen wiping the cum of John McCain off his mouth .......

Posted by: storsmkies on October 11, 2009 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Frank Rich is an idiot; McCain was certainly right about his most noteworthy post-9/11 position, support for the Iraqi surge. The surge indisputably worked, despite the Democrat naysayers (including Obama).

Posted by: hrtshpdbox on October 11, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

You may notice that Frank Rich didn't mention anything about the surge, which McCain called for from the beginning, and which turned out to be the right course of action in Iraq. Now, that doesn't mean McCain wasn't part of the wrong decision making up to that point, but Frank Rich seems have his own version of selective memory.

It's also worth remembering that 29 Senate Democrats (out of 50 total at the time), including Harry Reid, Joe Biden, and Chuck Schumer, voted for the war in Iraq. They deserve just as much blame for it as John McCain, given that they are each one vote out of 100. And, they all happen to now be in leadership positions in the Senate (if you count the President of the Senate as a leadership position). Shouldn't we be a bit more worried about their judgment, given that they actually have some modicum of power?

Instead, we're fighting old battles that are pointless. It's kind of stupid to be hammering away at McCain anyway, given that the Republicans barely listen to him and he's never going to run for a meaningful elective office again, save maybe another go at senator from Arizona. 2008 is over, McCain lost, and no one really pays much mind to him anymore. It's akin to caring what John Kerry had to say in 2005...it didn't matter in the least.

What happens in Afghanistan has not the least bit to do with what John McCain says. Apparently Frank Rich thinks it does. That alone should demonstrate that the judgments in his columns aren't worth consideration.

Posted by: Hank on October 11, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

"The surge indisputably worked"

The goal of the "surge" was to buy time for the Iraqi government to establish some sort of control over the violence in the country in order to prepare a political solution to Iraq's problems. If you've been listening to the news from Iraq (although as a right-winger I doubt that you pay much attention to facts),you'd know that they are clearly not a bit closer to that goal now than they were a year ago. There are still daily bombings and killings in the major cities, the government does not enjoy the support of vast swathes of the populace, and we still have over 100,000 troops in country. By what measure do you consider it a success?

Posted by: jjcomet on October 11, 2009 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

hrtshpdbox buying off desperate Sunni men who had no way to feed their families at $300/week worked, but the surge? Not so much. The fact that they had no interest in Saudi Wahhabi nutcases taking their women and dictating religion, politics and resistance to them via bazaar bombings and assassination factored in as well.

At best it was a temporary solution meant to last long enough to let the Bush Administration play put the string without a fullscale civil war/genocide on their hands. It's done nothing to stem or reverse ethnic cleansing and the Malaki administration & Kurds still haven't budged on meaningful power/oil revenue sharing.

The Navy told McCain to retire in the late 70s as they do with all captains of a certain age who aren't considered admiral material. There's only so many slots open the higher you go up the food chain and like any military branch they don't want aging peter principaled officers who aren't gonna make it clogging up the ranks. He spent most of the 1970s after he got out of that Vietnamese prison camp making up for lost time chasing women and cheating on his first wife. He may have done a pretty good job turning around that training squadron but he wasn't and isn't much of a strategic thinker.

Last year as a candidate he proposed kicking the Russians out of the G-20, a laughable proposal he wouldn't have been able to implement without Russian approval. Then he all but advocated we start a shooting war with Russia over their incursion into Georgia. Where he expected to get the troops for that little adventure I have no idea. John McCain has been wrong on so many foreign policy matters Obama could just look at his advice, do the exact opposite and come out ahead.

Posted by: markg8 on October 11, 2009 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Steve, but I just can't share your obsession with John McCain's TV appearances. Yes, John McCain's analytical and prophetic abilities are dismal, and what's worse, he doesn't seem to have the wits to learn anything from his past failures. But apart from the aspect that enduring his face on TV may be a challenge for some, the party suffering most from the fact that TV schedulers seem to find it necessary to trot him out all the time is the GOP.

- John McCain is a sign of the fact that the GOP has a leadership vacuum at the national level.
- John McCain takes away the oxygen from other Republicans, by jostling his way into the TV limelight all the time.
- The more John McCain is asked to appear on the Sunday Morning talk show circuit as the voice of the GOP, the more the man will succumb to his phantasy that he will have the opportunity of another run at the presidency.

John McCain is done, he may not want to accept it, but John McCain has passed the zenith of his political career. He is a man on the decline, as is his party. And for that reason, John McCain is its perfect spokesperson.

Oh yeah, and the surge 'worked'. Al-Maliki took the opportunity to form a national consensus with Sunnies and Kurds. The regular bangs we're hearing from Irak are those of firework displays celebrating that fact.

Posted by: SRW1 on October 11, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

I’m still waiting to hear the details of McCain’s super double-secret plan to get bin Laden, which he touted during the campaign.

Posted by: mars on October 11, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain = blowhard & fool.

Posted by: jimmy on October 11, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Time Magazine did a story on John McCain this week, "Voice In The Wilderness." It said this, amazingly enough:

"Is McCain about to re-enter the fray? If so, it is a journey that has been a year in the making. Since his defeat by Obama 11 months ago, McCain has spent much of his time in a self-imposed exile."

Later on, it says that "his appearances on the Sunday talk shows are more frequent." I think ubiquitous would have been the more accurate term.

Posted by: Joseph Nobles on October 11, 2009 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

This is good news!!1111! For McCain!!!1!!!

Posted by: As always... on October 11, 2009 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

McCain, the pilot who lost five planes but was related to top Navy brass.; the hawk who flew to help Georgia when it had the spat with Russia. Frank Rich got it right: "Wrong-Way McCain" .

Posted by: Val Sanford on October 11, 2009 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK
The surge indisputably worked

Actually, there's nothing even remotely "indisputable" about that statement, as a number of factors played into the reduction of violence, including such things as the "Anbar Awakening" strategy (commonly given far more weight than "the Surge"), the standing down of the Mahdi Army, the several million people who left Iraq, the ethnic cleansing and partitioning of the Baghdad neighborhoods, and so on. The role of "the Surge" was likely marginal, at best.

Posted by: PaulB on October 11, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

McCain Was the democrats choice to run for president. The repubs had their heads in a dark place and haven't extracted them yet!!

Posted by: Bill on October 11, 2009 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

McCain or McMahon? Remember when Johnny Carson would tell Ed McMahon he was wrong all the time and add an epitaph? McCain and Palin had both screamed that Russia provoked and preemptively invaded Georgia. After McCain lost, he was still pushing the prospect of open hostility with Russia. As Carson said, "wrong again condor breath." It was pretty obvious then, and a NATO study confirmed last week that GEORGIA attacked civilians and Russian peacekeeper troops in South Ossetia BEFORE the Russians moved.

If I were a permanent war Republican I could see invading a weak country that never attacked or even threatened the US based on lies and demagoguery. I mean only 3-5000 or so grunts would die. But even the permanent war types should cringe about starting a war with a world military power - based on something that is 100% nonsense.

Posted by: Wally Sandaber on October 11, 2009 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

This really is the best argument for Kill Your Television.

Posted by: Big River Bandido on October 11, 2009 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK
Not bad for a senator in the minority, who isn't in the party leadership, who has no role in any important negotiations, and who has offered no significant pieces of legislation.

Of course the media is treating McCain as important. McCain is a key individual currently in recruiting and financing candidates to run for office. Negotiations? Legislation? Those are not important to Republicans. They exist only to get reelected and to elect enough additional Republicans to regain the majority.

As for McCain not being in the leadership, that's another plus for McCain. Have you noticed the track record of the leadership in getting Republicans elected and reelected recently? It's abysmal.

The media understands this. They are going to where the Republican Party really is to speak to McCain.

Posted by: Rick B on October 11, 2009 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

McCain missed his calling- he should have been a TV weatherman.

Nah, I'm thinking he should've been a talk radio host.

Posted by: Steve J. on October 11, 2009 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Bernard Gilroy on October 11, 2009 at 8:33 AM got it right. McCain is on TV on Sundays so often because he is not President and has a lot of free time.

Add to that one other important fact. The Republicans have no one else worth sending to the Sunday shows regularly. McCain is filling a big gap because he is the only one who can. There is no one else in the Republican Party as significant as the loser is.

Posted by: Rick B on October 11, 2009 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

"...It's also worth remembering that 29 Senate Democrats (out of 50 total at the time), including Harry Reid, Joe Biden, and Chuck Schumer, voted for the war in Iraq..."-Hank

It never fails to amaze me... after all this time they still don't get it...THEY VOTED TO AUTHORIZE THE USE OF FORCE...as a last resort.

They never voted for "war"...any of them.

Bush promised not to use force unless absolutely necessary but that he needed to be prepared...just in case...and would only use war as a last resort. Congress never authorized that war.

Posted by: bjobotts on October 12, 2009 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

".... The surge indisputably worked, despite the Democrat naysayers (including Obama).
Posted by: hrtshpdbox on October 11, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

You haven't studied the issue enough to know that the Sunni uprising was what worked, the "splurge" came along side of it but it was already working. What we did was correct the mistake which caused the insurgency in the first place...re-hired the Iraq army which all became unemployed when Bremmer fired them. Surge was to save face and say "see, we did it" trying to take credit for what was a)unnecessary from the beginning, b)all our fault because of bad decisions like McCain supported and c) resulted in more ethnic cleansing and displacement and segregation than was ever necessary.

Get it straight...the surge was the result of idiocy in decision making...and McCain's insane and always wrong...on everything...there's a reason he graduated 5th from the bottom of his class at the naval academy (wouldn't have graduated at all except for daddy being an admiral and the embarrassment it would have caused.)

His POW blackmail has got him everything he wanted so his pathetic record of taking as much as he could get from everybody has been exposed...yet watch how many choose to ignore it.

Posted by: Botts on October 12, 2009 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

A multi-millionaire who still collects disability pay from the Navy, and still sucking all he can from the elected government tit. A greedy manipulating hypocrite who still cons the media at will. An insult to American democracy and intelligent voters. Milk it John milk it.

Posted by: bjobotts on October 12, 2009 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't get to watch it, did they ask him about his pro-rape vote?

Posted by: andyvillager on October 12, 2009 at 7:55 AM | PERMALINK

Boy I miss being the left wing I used to be.

Posted by: mink/celes on October 12, 2009 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Don't you get it? There is a reason McCain and other 'moderates' are darlings of the MSM. The MSM is scared of true conservatives.

Posted by: Dave on October 12, 2009 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM

buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly