Ever since President Obama took office in 2008, Republicans in Congress—not to mention Fox News—have sustained a hair-trigger response to the slightest possibility of a scandal. Their first real opportunity came with Operation Fast and Furious, in which Obama’s assertion of executive privilege sent Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and rest of the GOP into a paranoid frenzy. When the consulate attack in Benghazi took place, the administration’s failure to present a cohesive narrative ignited the fire of controversy—fire which Republicans continue to stoke.
On Wednesday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), joined by fellow senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), proposed to create a select committee with wide powers to investigate the incident, and the Obama administration’s response to it. McCain has repeatedly turned to the media to rail against what he believes to be a catastrophic mishandling of the events in Libya, and to call for further investigation. Therefore, when McCain missed a classified Senate briefing on the attack on Thursday, and instead held a press conference about the lack of information on said attack, CNN’s Ted Barrett, naturally, pressed him to comment on it. McCain snapped and refused to answer the question. Here’s the video:
“I have no comment about my schedule and I’m not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media,” McCain told Barrett. “I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?” Later on, his spokesman Brian Rogers cited a “scheduling error.”
Senator Susan Collins criticized McCain for missing the briefing, Politico reported. “I do not see the benefit of creating a brand-new committee when we already have the Senate’s chief oversight committee, plus the Intelligence Committee, examining this very important matter.”
On Wednesday, McCain’s temper was again set off when a reporter asked if the David Petraeus sex scandal posed a greater threat to national security than the Benghazi attack. ”With great respect,” McCain responded, “that’s one of the dumbest questions I’ve ever heard.” The video below shows his exasperated response:
While Senator McCain continues to pursue the Benghazi matter, an issue most Americans do not find worthy of a scandal, his daughter, Meghan McCain, threatened to leave the Republican Party in a Daily Beast op-ed. Citing the Tea Party’s antiquated focus on social issues, the senator’s daughter urged the GOP to modernize or risk permanently losing relevance.
Times are changing. The face of America is changing and we as Republicans stand at a crossroads. Are we going to accept the changing face of America and change with it? Or are we going to continue to become more isolated and irrelevant? It’s possible to maintain the core values of this party and evolve when it comes to social issues. Quite frankly, I don’t see any other path to success.
I’ve spent most of my adult life fighting for change from inside the Republican Party. We Republicans need to look at the future instead of living in the past. We have to learn from what the last two presidential elections have taught us. We must accept each other and the different opinions within the party instead of trying to cannibalize people that diverge from an arbitrary purity test. I refuse to let the extremists win. We can’t let the Tea Party bully us any longer. We can’t keep worrying about ultraconservative white male voters. At the end of the day, I still believe I’m on the right side of history, and we can’t let this party sink away. We can and we must evolve. I don’t know exactly how yet, but I for one am ready to spend the next four years helping us get there.
So far, the volatile senator hasn’t treated us to a public tantrum regarding his daughter’s threatened defection and disavowal of all he holds dear. But tomorrow is another day.