KLEIN 1, MCCAIN 0…. John McCain has spent an enormous amount of time lately criticizing President Obama’s approach to developments in Iran. On CNN last night, Larry King mentioned to Time‘s Joe Klein that McCain would be on the program tonight, and asked what Klein would tell the Arizona Republican.

“Be quiet,” Klein said. “You don’t need to do this…. What you’re doing is a self-indulgence at this point. Senator McCain, if he’s going to talk about this, should also talk about the fact that the United States supported Saddam Hussein in the Iran/Iraq war for eight years. Every one of those protesters out in the streets, every last one of them believes the United States supplied Saddam Hussein with the poison gas that has debilitated tens of thousands of Iranian men…. They blame us for identifying them as part of the Axis of Evil, with two countries that they disdain, the Iraqis and the North Koreans.”

After getting positive feedback from Iranian-Americans, Klein expanded on this today, explaining why McCain and other conservative critics of the administration are not only misguided, but also making “unseemly” attacks.

I have yet to hear what possible good it would do for the President of the United States to encourage the protesters, except to give the Iranian regime a better excuse for killing more of them. McCain’s bleatings are either for domestic political consumption or self-satisfaction, a form of hip-shooting onanism that demonstrates why he would have been a foreign policy disaster had he been elected.

To put it as simply as possible, McCain — and his cohorts — are trying to score political points against the President in the midst of an international crisis. It is the sort of behavior that Republicans routinely call “unpatriotic” when Democrats are doing it. I would never question John McCain’s patriotism, no matter how misguided his sense of the country’s best interests sometimes seems. His behavior has nothing to do with love of country; it has everything to do with love of self.

That sounds about right. When one combines a misguided worldview with petty partisanship and an inflated ego, we get the kind of small-minded cheap shots McCain and his allies have been taking against the president for over a week now.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.