In 2000, John McCain seemed a respectable political figure — admired for his wartime heroism, well-regarded for his refusal to kowtow to partisan dogma, liked by journalists for his refreshing candor. He failed that year in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, but he ran a decent campaign, sticking to the high road even when he was waylaid by offensive personal attacks.
But that McCain, the man who was bested by George W. Bush, has long since been replaced by a bitter and petulant man who traffics in petty grudges. More than anything else, anger over his loss in 2008 explains his attacks on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and his attempts to derail her chance of becoming the next secretary of state. Not only did McCain lose his best shot at the presidency to someone he viewed as a neophyte, Barack Obama, but he also took several strafings from Rice — who served up pungent analyses of his foreign policy shortcomings as one of Obama’s campaign surrogates.
Clearly, McCain holds a grudge. If he can’t let it go, other Republican senators ought to be wary of following him down this low road. Isn’t the Republican Party in enough trouble already? Shouldn’t it be trying to win a younger and more diverse following rather than reinforcing its image as a bastion of grumpy old white guys?
Should Obama decide to nominate Rice, she is eminently qualified to replace Hillary Clinton. A Rhodes scholar, she has worked in national security and diplomacy since 1993, when she joined the Clinton administration. She was named an assistant secretary of state in 1997.
In her role as U.N. ambassador, a post in which she has served since the beginning of Obama’s term, she is widely credited with helping to negotiate the tough sanctions that have brought Iran’s economy to ruin. That’s no small thing. She’s also believed to have had major influence in pushing Obama to join the NATO-led campaign that toppled Moammar Gadhafi.