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.