Senator John McCain said he was “disturbed” by the story that Susan Rice was telling. The battle Senator McCain is waging “against” UN Ambassador Susan Rice dates back to the 2008 campaign, when McCain felt insulted and slighted by remarks made by Susan Rice who said then that “I don’t think he’ll be strolling around the market in a flak jacket.” Rice was referring to then-Senator Barack Obama, who was planning a trip to Iraq.
The “flak jacket” reference was to photos taken back then. McCain said then that “Never have I been able to go out into the city as I was today.” McCain made the remarks after his brief walking tour of the Shorja market in Baghdad. McCain remarked that he had left his helmet in his escort Humvee and felt utterly safe in the marketplace. McCain neglected to mention that the pedestrian mall was patrolled by 100 heavily armed American soldiers and watched over by two attack helicopters and snipers.
Reports at the time were that Senator McCain was steaming over the remarks by Susan Rice and it received plenty of press coverage. It dominated the campaign for a news cycle for a day or two and that alone is hurtful to a campaign. Senator McCain has not forgotten those remarks.
The bitterness of Senator McCain toward Susan Rice has nothing to do with Benghazi and little to do with politics.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a respected moderate Republican senator, also met with United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice to hear Rice’s side of the Benghazi story. Senator Collins wanted to know the background of Rice’s remarks on Sunday talk shows in which Rice said the attack in Benghazi was cause by a “video.”
After her meeting with Senator Collins, she agreed with her friend and colleague, Senator John McCain (R-AZ). She McCain’s assessment of Rice’s words and actions concerning Benghazi who said he found the explanation “disturbing.” Senator Collins said she had “problems” with Susan Rice’s explanation of Benghazi and apparently did what any good friend would do. She stood by her friend Senator McCain.
It is what friends do.
It is personal. Deeply personal. Dates back to those remarks. Losing the race for President to Barack Obama didn’t help either, but now McCain has what he deems as an easy target.
On Nov. 14, 2012, McCain held a press conference with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). and said flatly he would block Susan Rice’s nomination. “I will do everything in my power to block her from being the United States secretary of state,” McCain said. “She has proven that she either doesn’t understand, or she is not willing to accept evidence on its face. There is no doubt five days later what this attack was and for.”
McCain, Graham, and Ayotte were laying for Susan Rice and took the opportunity to say they were “more disturbed” now than before about Susan Rice. That was how it was planned. The damage of this fiasco for Senator John McCain may be irreparable to his image as a highly respected political and military figure.
Speculation recently on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” was that John McCain wants to force President Obama to nominate Senator John Kerry for Secretary of State, which would result in a special election for Kerry’s seat. The feeling is that defeated Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) would have a chance of winning in a special election, as Brown did in 2010.
But the smart money is that it has nothing to do with this kind of political scheme.
It is likely the “flak jacket” crack by Susan Rice.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books