JONES PUSHES BACK AGAINST MCCAIN…. Last week, for reasons that weren’t entirely clear, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lashed out at National Security Adviser James Jones. Arguing for an escalation of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the failed presidential candidate told his Senate colleagues that retired Marine Gen. Jones is one of the president’s advisers who doesn’t “want to alienate the left base of the Democrat [sic] Party.”

Jones wasn’t pleased with the criticism.

“Sen. McCain knows me very well,” Jones, a retired Marine Corps general, told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “I worked for Senator McCain when he was a captain. I’ve known him for many, many years. And he knows that I don’t play politics with national — I don’t play politics. And I certainly don’t play it with national security. And neither does anyone else I know.

“The lives of our young men and women are on the line. The strategy does not belong to any political party and I can assure you that the President of the United States is not playing to any political base. And I take exception to that remark.”

McCain may not remember this, but in June 2008, in the midst of the presidential campaign, Gen. Jones joined McCain at an event in Missouri and flew to the campaign event with McCain on the candidate’s plane. He’s not exactly a progressive political activist.

For McCain to argue that Jones is worried about the opinions of the Dems’ liberal base was foolish. For McCain to question the integrity of Jones’ national security advice was absurd.

I was glad to see Jones push back this morning, but under the circumstances, McCain’s cheap and petty partisanship probably deserved an even stronger rebuke.

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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.