The ‘thank America last’ crowd

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.