A lot of intemperate things were said in the wake of the massacre in Orlando, many of them by Donald Trump. But John McCain took the shameful cake, as I discussed this week at New York:
[Y]ou’d figure the presumptive Republican nominee has reasserted his leadership of the Obama-haters of America. But then came this astounding attack today:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the elder Republican statesman, said President Obama was “directly responsible” for the terror attack in Orlando due to his failure to combat the rise of the Islamic State terror group.
McCain’s “reasoning,” so to speak, for this remarkable statement involved the stacking of dubious premises to reach an absurd conclusion:
When pressed by a reporter on the claim that Obama was “directly” responsible, McCain reiterated his point — that Obama should not have withdrawn combat troops from Iraq and should have made a more determined effort to intervene in the Syrian civil war.
Keep in mind that so far as anyone knows, ISIS had nothing to do with the Orlando massacre other than taking “credit” for it ex post facto thanks to the murderer’s apparently independent decision to dedicate his evil act to the evil actors in the Middle East.
Shortly after spouting this insanity, McCain issued a statement on Twitter saying that he “misspoke”: “To clarify, I was referring to Pres Obama’s national security decisions that have led to rise of #ISIL, not to the President himself.”
So that’s reassuring: McCain was not accusing the president of being personally involved in the planning or execution of the attacks in Orlando. But that he felt the need to clear that up is telling.
It’s worth remembering that if John McCain had somehow beaten Barack Obama in 2008, he might still be in office today, actively waging wars instead of merely longing for them and bitterly lashing out at a commander-in-chief who is, to his view, insufficiently bloodthirsty. He’s convinced himself that the case for an expanded and eternal Iraq War was strong when he championed the “surge” and, if possible, is even stronger today. And he wants a new war or two now to make up for Obama’s horrific decision to bring that great folly to a close. Perhaps because he knows Donald Trump won’t make this particular argument, McCain felt the need to make it himself.
If the myth of McCain the Maverick Good Guy still survives in some quarters, it’s time to consign it to the history books for good.