Political Animal


August 22, 2011 8:40 AM The ‘thank America last’ crowd

By Steve Benen

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) issued a joint statement last night on the developments in Libya. It’s worth taking a look at the lede.

“The end of the Qadaffi regime in Libya is a victory for the Libyan people and for the broader cause of freedom in the Middle East and throughout the world. This achievement was made possible first and foremost by the struggle and sacrifice of countless Libyans, whose courage and perseverance we applaud.

“We also commend our British, French, and other allies, as well as our Arab partners, especially Qatar and the UAE, for their leadership in this conflict. Americans can be proud of the role our country has played in helping to defeat Qaddafi, but we regret that this success was so long in coming due to the failure of the United States to employ the full weight of our airpower.”

Remember hearing about the “blame America first” crowd? Well, say hello to the “thank America last” crowd.

McCain and Graham “commend” everyone except the United States military, and then, even while applauding the developments, take yet another shot at the Obama administration.

These two just can’t bring themselves put aside petty partisan sniping, even when they’re thrilled by the fall of a dictator.

There’s obviously a legitimate question as to whether the international offensive in Libya was a wise decision. But as the Gaddafi regime crumbles, do the conflict’s two biggest congressional cheerleaders really feel the need to complain, “Yeah, but we’re not happy with the speed with which Obama got the job done”?

Here are three things I’d encourage McCain and Graham to keep in mind. First, complaining about getting the outcome they wanted is just cheap. When the fear of Obama getting some credit for success is stronger than the satisfaction that comes with a tyrant’s fall, there’s a problem.

Second, the fact of the matter is, the efforts of U.S. forces in Libya are being cited as “a major factor in helping to tilt the balance after months of steady erosion of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s military.”

And third, if McCain and Graham really want to complain about why “this success was so long in coming,” maybe they can talk more about their trip to Tripoli two years ago, when both McCain and Graham cozied up to Gaddafi, even visiting with him at the dictator’s home, discussing delivery of American military equipment to the Libyan regime. Both senators shook Gaddafi’s hand; McCain even bowed a little.

I’m curious if McCain and Graham have simply forgotten about this, or if they’re just hoping everyone else has.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • mr. irony on August 22, 2011 8:42 AM:

    gop 2011: khaddafi was framed !!

  • mr. irony on August 22, 2011 8:44 AM:

    gop 2011: dictators are people too !!

  • Eeyore on August 22, 2011 8:50 AM:

    The fall of Libya was a direct result of wise actions, including the use of torture, taken by George W. Bush!

  • EM on August 22, 2011 8:51 AM:

    I'm reading the NY Daily News this morning, and there is literally no mention of Obama bombing Libya, and putting together the NATO coalition that imposed the No-Fly Zone. None. It's as if the U.S and Obama had nothing to do with it. It's as if it never happened.

    And this is the same paper that was bitching like crazy when we did intervene. Just bizarre.

    So, Obama deftly nudged Mubarak out, put a bullet in Bin Laden's head, and now Quadaffi is gone, without a single American casualty. This guy clearly has no clue what he's doing

  • DJE on August 22, 2011 8:52 AM:

    Smoking meth so early in the morning? Go get help.

  • Jim M on August 22, 2011 8:53 AM:

    Keep that video link, it will be useful later. The ad makes itself.

  • Danp on August 22, 2011 8:54 AM:

    I wonder whether McCain and Graham realize we are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. It takes more than airpower and a friendly viceroy to solve the world's problems. This one isn't over, but at least we're not in the middle of it.

  • Holmes on August 22, 2011 8:59 AM:

    McCain and Graham have no foreign policy credibility(or any policy for that matter). I didn't think Graham and McCain could stoop any lower than their behavior during the DADT and START debates late last year, but this comes damn close. Pathetic.

  • Danny on August 22, 2011 9:01 AM:

    Oh if we only had been wise enough to do Libya the McCain way: with plenty of MMurican boots on the ground, proudly leading the world from the frontlines and once again liberating the Arubs from themselves. What could go wrong? Operation Iraqi Freedom proved once and for all that p-ssying around with UNSC resolutions, global partnership and risk-sharing is highly unnecessary and for wimps.

  • berttheclock on August 22, 2011 9:03 AM:

    Excellent pickup, EM, on the hypocrisy of the NY Daily News. However, don't forget the many posts by libs at such as Huffpo, who, denounced our involvement in this overthrow. When, the bombings commenced, there were more shouts from the left against our actions than those on the right. Of course, the right used this to demand this be brought before Congress for approval.

    Yes, NATO, but, then, who was manning those AWACs above them, eh? As to Flip Flop and his puppit from SC, typical memory selection.

  • lou on August 22, 2011 9:12 AM:

    McCain/Palin 2008 ...

    Why does Johnny need to keep wiping American's noses in his nasty? Histrionic personality disorder.

  • filkertom on August 22, 2011 9:17 AM:

    Holmes: The problem is that, while McCain and Graham have no foreign policy credibility with us, they have plenty with the general public, because the Vichy Media keep stickin' 'em out there as "experts". Which leads to circular arguments: "They're wrong! They don't know anything!" "Well, why are they on TV every week? Somebody thinks they know something...."

  • Rochester on August 22, 2011 9:18 AM:

    At risk of sounding exactly like a Conservative, Sen. McCain's statement strikes me as particularly un-american.

    Another apt description is "childish".

    And another is "loser".

  • Josef K on August 22, 2011 9:19 AM:

    I�m curious if McCain and Graham have simply forgotten about this, or if they�re just hoping everyone else has.

    For the former, I'm inclined to think it really is senility (albeit of a rather willful kind).

    For the latter, I suspect he's seriously banking on public amnesia.

    The worst of it is they themselves will likely get away with this idiocy, or at least not go seriously challenged. Whatever narrative the White House offers (if any) stands a good chance of becoming dominant, these honorable gentlemen's sour grapes hopefully becoming just more background static.

    Of course, the next question is whether US assets will remain in play after Gaddafi is removed (arrested or in exile).

  • Jamie on August 22, 2011 9:19 AM:

    It's quite impressive to see how the GOP can stay on message, no matter what changes.

  • SteveT on August 22, 2011 9:22 AM:

    I'm curious if McCain and Graham have simply forgotten about this, or if they're just hoping everyone else has.

    I haven't seen McCain asked about his visit to Libya in any of his (seemingly hundreds) of interviews. So the corporate-controlled media is in on the coverup.

    But I'm pretty sure McCain already has forgotten what he had for breakfast this morning.

  • berttheclock on August 22, 2011 9:24 AM:

    Yes, Senator McCain, your sudden desire to replicate Bomber Harris, might have some merit, although Harris did not win the war in Europe by bombing alone, but, remember, to be successful in dropping bombs, a pilot must remain intact in his plane. Bailing out and crash landing habits would be frowned upon by your new mentor, Bomber Harris.

  • Grumpy on August 22, 2011 9:31 AM:

    McCain and Graham commend everyone except the United States military...

    I think that's covered by "Americans can be proud of the role our country has played." However, they also say Americans should be proud of "failure."

  • Mac on August 22, 2011 9:33 AM:

    I'm grateful for the turn of events in Libya, and I do think that the Obama administration deserves props for their handling of the situation.

    That said, I still don't like how easy it is for US presidents to start wars, skirmishes, and other military actions.

  • Danny on August 22, 2011 9:33 AM:

    It's not only the GOP, though. Professional emoproggers are already hard at work on scoring Libya as the result of Hillary steamrolling Obummer and pretending they were all for it from the get go.

  • Danny on August 22, 2011 9:36 AM:


    This intervention was backed by a UNSC resolution, the arab league, and the global community. If those were always considered necessary preconditions for intervening abroad, we'd have no more Iraqs.

  • FRP on August 22, 2011 9:52 AM:


    At risk of sounding exactly like a Conservative, Sen. McCain's statement strikes me as particularly un-american.

    Another apt description is "childish".

    And another is "loser".

    Well , yes but ...

    Try , try , try , if just for a moment , to imagine you can't even count the number of different houses called "Home" you reside in from time to time to ...

    Try , try , try , to remember the woman you left from marriage when convenience called ...

    Try , try , try , to fathom the wealth you have as a magic credit card with limits beyond domestic imagination , and then see how ,
    Difficult , (impossible [truly an immovable obect]) , it is to maintain an even tempered , logical , conversation with any ('effin) one who DARES to say No !

    It takes a ranting man
    To paint the burning fool
    It takes a ranting man
    To leave no doubts at all

    He's ranting now
    As he has his whole life long
    He's ranting now
    So he won't be rantin'
    When time asks
    Why why why why why ?

    PS :
    Write as many Y's as it takes !

  • Zorro on August 22, 2011 9:53 AM:

    Clearly, the Senators' main objection is that the fall of this dictator was accomplished without requiring tens of thousands of ground troops and trillions of dollars in expense. Clearly, this makes the accomplishment completely unworthy of celebration.


  • TJ Parker on August 22, 2011 9:57 AM:

    Well, you have to remember, no matter how bad Ghadafi was, Obama is worse.

    Oops. I was wearing my Republican bile-covered spectacles. Obama, ignore the petty grumpy old men of the Senate.

  • berttheclock on August 22, 2011 9:58 AM:

    Hmmm, a failed pilot and a former JAG officer - Such terrific "military minds".

  • KurtRex1453 on August 22, 2011 10:03 AM:

    WTF? McCain et al are supreme hypocrites, having criticized the US role in Lybia from the beginning. It was either too much or to little but never just right. I think, If they had their way we might have had another middle east war on our hands, another occupation, and another failed presidency.

    Obama seems to have done this just right. Fuck the gloomy GOPs of doom.

  • Jonathan on August 22, 2011 10:22 AM:

    This is a great point, and if Dems were Republicans we would hear this ad naseum for 3 days.

  • FRP on August 22, 2011 10:23 AM:

    TJ Parker

    Pretty good son* pretty good .

    Ya had me at Obama is worse . Coursin iffin I hadn't been so amused I mighta taken offense at saying mean things about our immortal (apparently) , and infinitely celebrated aristocrats .

    *Your gender may vary , check with your pharmacist or doctor to verify iffin it really matters .

  • biggerbox on August 22, 2011 10:32 AM:

    McCain and Graham seem to have forgotten it, but they ARE members of the branch of our government charged with declaring war. If they wanted us to be employing the full weight of our airpower, perhaps they should have been working harder to get their colleagues to vote a declaration of war, instead of dinking around on nonsense about the debt ceiling.

    Since that is NOT what they've spent the last months working on, I can only conclude that they are just hypocritical cranky old men who should, well, shut up.

  • zandru on August 22, 2011 10:35 AM:

    "I'm curious if McCain and Graham have simply forgotten about this, or if they're just hoping everyone else has."

    My guess is that Jon Stewart won't forget. I'm looking forward to seeing The Daily Show's take on it.

    Yet another "government dticle"!

  • SYSPROG on August 22, 2011 11:06 AM:

    I want to slap their silly faces. I have a friend (in fact he is the Rebel's finance minister) that agreed with the President's policy in Libya. He has been emailing since March and is pretty happy with what the US has done. McCain and Graham are big mouth war mongers and I for one am REALLY sick of them.

  • Serolf Divad on August 22, 2011 11:08 AM:

    McCain and Graham are absolutely right. When George W. Bush decided it was time to bring democracy to Iraq, the U.S. went in, toppled Saddam Hussein, set up a flourhing democracy, and sixs month later the last U.S. Serviceman left the country. And the total cost to the U.S. Taxpayer: $0.00. Iraqi oil revenues paid for it all.

    And yeah, I'm baing sarcastc.

  • Eeyore on August 22, 2011 11:16 AM:


    Forgot to indicate

  • danimal on August 22, 2011 11:23 AM:

    Well, at least Libya exposed McCain and Graham as fools to the few undecided people paying attention. This insulting press release reveals more about them than an airport scanner. These bombastic warmongers (BTW, where's Holy Joe??) are more interested in being anti-Obama than they are in celebrating the downfall of a brutal tyrant. But then, maybe they were able to look into the tyrants eye and see Gaddafi's soul while visiting him two years ago.

    They aren't saying "we're number 1, they just have their fingers in the wind, trying to tell which way the wind blows so they can criticize Obama. Disgraceful.

  • HotTips2011 on August 22, 2011 11:26 AM:

    Graham will be thanked by his constituents in 2012
    when we hand this RINO his ass. AZ is gonna have to
    take care of McCain on their own.

  • Goldilocks on August 22, 2011 11:27 AM:

    Danny on August 22, 2011 9:36 AM:


    This intervention was backed by a UNSC resolution, the arab league, and the global community. If those were always considered necessary preconditions for intervening abroad, we'd have no more Iraqs.

    We didn't get it from Benen. We certainly didn't get it from McCain and Graham. I was despairing of getting it in the comments - then I found Danny.

    "Thank America last". "Don't thank the UN at all".
    It used to be, when I was growing up, that putting yourself last was the polite thing to do. It made people feel better and fostered congeniality.

    Nowadays, maybe from insecurity or insensitivity, everyone has to put themselves first. It doesn't make for a better society or a happier life.

  • Kristen McFarland on August 22, 2011 11:35 AM:

    You know, Mr. Benen, there will be consequences to some of the idiocy as propounded and perpetrated by an MSM that made the same assumptions about Iran over thirty years ago and were just as wrong then as they are now..and saying you are wrong would probably be gilding the lily...but there you have it...it's the Muslim Brotherhood that's running this show and believe me, as one who worked in the American intelligence community for almost twenty years back during Iran's Islamic Revolution, you are beyond the ignorance that you are currently preaching...after Qaddafi, what??? The individuals taking over in Libya and mischaracterized as 'freedom fighters' are from the Muslim Brotherhood...there are no amount of coverups and lies the media can put forward that these people are interested in freedom of anything..keep lying, distorting, misleading and misreading and by then we can look forward to another 9/11 that you'll have to lie your way out of...after all, Mr. Benen, the Muslim Brotherhood is an organization that virtue of its own bylaws wants to destroy Western civilization and which also includes you....get used it and stop making excuses for Obama's own associations and preaching to the MB choir as if they don't matter...because, in the final analysis they will matter the most to you...

  • Anonymous on August 22, 2011 11:42 AM:

    you know, Kristen McFarland, if you were in the 'intelligence community' for 20 years then there is a REASON why we are screwing up so badly in Iraq and Afghanistan. You have NO IDEA what you are talking about. You are nothing more than a 'birther'...you should TALK to the rebels. You should READ about them. You should study HISTORY. Instead of touting your 'credentials' that really don't mean squat, you should actually see what's happening on the ground. Time will show that you and your ilk that pretend to 'get' the Middle East are wrong and 'American Exceptionalism' is a myth that you keep trying to 'push'.

  • Hello on August 22, 2011 11:44 AM:

    Reading the comments of McCain, Graham et al., you'd think that S and P was right.

  • JonathanU on August 22, 2011 11:56 AM:

    Barry's actions were both too late AND too soon, too costly, AND yet clearly done on the cheap. They unnecessarily put American servicepeople at risk, AND yet he really should have sent in ground troops. Although the operation has been largely "successful", it was all despite Barry's efforts to ruin the whole thing. Clearly, Barry is a poopyhead.

    I for one am thrilled at the apparent success of NATO's limited operation that has resulted in the toppling of Kadaffi, and think President Obama deserves kudos for getting this one just right.

  • JonathanU on August 22, 2011 11:58 AM:

    By the way, the first paragraph of that last post was snark...

  • jimmypete on August 22, 2011 12:14 PM:

    My God, Obama was criticized by the right for getting involved, now he's criticized for not getting involved enough. Right wing hypocrisy knows no limit. I blame the media which simply accepts this and uses false equivalency to justify this acceptance. Just watch dolt David Gregory any Sunday.

  • Mattsky on August 22, 2011 12:17 PM:

    Getting rid of Qaddafi is fine but do we know what will be replacing him? Ignoring the War Powers Resolution is inexcusable. He got OKs from the U.N., NATO and the Arab League. He should done the so with the US Congress too.

  • yellowdog on August 22, 2011 12:26 PM:

    I don't know enough about Libya to know if President Obama's decision was right or wrong. However, this is a time to congratulate the men and women of our armed forces for their skill and bravery. It is a time to celebrate the toppling of a tyrant.

    For perhaps the ten millionth time, Senator McCain has struck exactly the wrong note and showed remarkable ill grace. I cannot believe it, but I am disappointed in him again. I keep hoping for more from McCain, but he so rarely vindicates my hope. He has become like an old vaudevillian, stuck in his dated, no-longer-funny routine.

  • SYSPROG on August 22, 2011 12:29 PM:

    You know, the 'revolutionary's' in the US proclaimed victory in 1776 and didn't have a Constitution until 1781. Really? Do we have to declare it 'over' in fifteen minutes? Do we have to blame the Arab League and the Muslim Brotherhood?

  • zandru on August 22, 2011 2:59 PM:

    "For perhaps the ten millionth time, Senator McCain has struck exactly the wrong note and showed remarkable ill grace." states yellowdog

    Yes, just about every day Sen. McCain makes me feel glad that he isn't in the White House...

    "soVidate first" - with a little star over the "i". Clearly some kind of Cold War reference.

  • Marko on August 22, 2011 3:03 PM:

    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED - Obama/Carrier scenes at 5!

  • Squeaky McCrinkle on August 22, 2011 4:29 PM:

    Am I the only one who sees the irony in John McCain talking about the "weight of our airpower?

    Talk about failing to learn the lessons of history.

  • cinesimon on August 22, 2011 7:35 PM:

    Kirsten, given your bizarre rhetoric, it's clear you weren't even born 20 years ago.
    You right wingers and your constant stream of backwards Bs make it virtually mandatory for any reasonable person to simply point and laugh at you.

    This(classic right wing) projection of your own silliness is just sad. You insult anyone you expect to believe your childish ruse.
    If you're going to pretend to be an U.S. foreign intelligence expert, you might want to at least try to camouflage the same old bigoted and ignorant talking points we all see and hear on Fox, Limbaugh every day of the week - talking points that never ever change regardless of what is going on in reality land. It seems you inhabit that world so much, you think we're all as gullible as you are.

    Any self respecting con artist would be embarrassed to be associated with you.

  • Boo on August 23, 2011 7:02 AM:

    After reading this article, it becomes clear to me that those 2 hypocritical hawks, McCain & Graham, (aka "Me & My Shadow" ) must get huge donations from munitions makers and military contractors. Eisenhower warned us about people like them.

  • bmi on August 23, 2011 8:58 AM:

    Maybe they're more interested in selling and dropping bombs than the actual outcome or resolution?

  • clevergril on August 23, 2011 1:12 PM:

    Respectfully, Senator McCain, it is difficult to apply the full weight of the nation's airpower on Libya when the last administration committed this nation to two wars for much of the last decade.

    Nonetheless, the current administration has managed to kill Osama bin Laden and contribute to the apparent overthrow of Qaddafi. A fine set of accomplishments for 2011.