TGFJL: McCain & Graham Bitter It Up Alone
“Thank God for Joe Lieberman”.
Probably not a statement made by Al Gore.
It was, however, directed (sharply) at former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), during his Senate confirmation hearing before the Armed Services Committee on Thursday, January 31. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), former Presidential nominee, former Maverick, forever the man who thought Sarah Palin was an acceptable choice to lead this country (and, judging by the many very large bulging veins McCain has been sporting lately, Palin could very well have been called upon). McCain castigated Chuck Hagel for his position on the Iraq War surge. He had to know, did the surge work. Did it? Well, did it?? Yes or no?! While chiding the Secretary of Defense nominee, McCain’s rant ended with a phrase used liberally by he and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for many years: Thank God for Joe Lieberman. Yes. TGFJL.
At the Republican National Convention in September of 2008, Graham, introducing McCain-Palin to the world, felt the need to TGFJL. Speaking, of course, on the surge in Iraq, Graham told his captive audience:
“Last summer, we came within two votes – two votes of a congressionally mandated surrender. One Democrat – one Democrat broke with his party to support the surge. Ladies and gentlemen, thank God for Joe Lieberman.”
Of course. McGrieberman. The bromantic, neo-con triumvirate of yore. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman. It appears though, that without Lieberman, his pals are, shall we say, officially off the reservation. Their anger and shenanigans spreading like a virus over these past two weeks – at the Benghazi grilling of Hillary Clinton (she “got away with murder“, said Graham); during John Kerry’s confirmation hearing, and, now, with Chuck Hagel’s confirmation playing out. One exchange from Hagel’s hearing is so sublimely over-dramatized and puerile that you should not read it if you have food or drink in your mouth. Lindsey Graham, going at Hagel over his now famous “Jewish Lobby” comment:
Graham – “Name one person who is intimidated by the Jewish lobby. Name one dumb thing we’ve been goaded into doing by the Israeli, Jewish lobby.”
Hagel – “I don’t know.”
Graham – “Then why did you say it? I can’t think of a more provocative thing to say. The statements you made about Palestinians and about ‘the Jewish lobby,’ all that together sends the worst possible message to our enemies and friends.”
Graham went on to excoriate Hagel for not signing a letter of support for Israel during the Second Intifada in 2000 (which he mispronounced as Infada), saying the absence of Hagel’s signature “runs chills up my spine.” Whatever you say, Lindsey.
Joe Lieberman, though once (still?) reviled by his former Democratic colleagues as a turncoat, was, in this unlikely, comically-joined-at-the-hip gang, the mostly reasonable one. I read a column by The Hartford Courant’s Colin McEnroe recently that perhaps best captured the nature of this threesome:
“….a long-running, uncredited Beckett play about three characters trapped in a state of reasonable-sounding irresolution in which truth and falsehood have nearly identical status. I believe elephants are being slaughtered. You don’t. Let’s compromise. Elephants are very sick. The fact that divergent parties can agree on a statement does not make it true.”
Without him, Joe’s pals have boarded the crazy town express (last train after the Straight Talk Express). Graham, who once described himself as an Operation Desert Storm Veteran (he was briefly in the JAG corp), never actually left South Carolina during the Gulf War. Graham – never married. Odd for a guy who consistently professes to be a “family values” politician and who has a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign. Graham – never married (oh, did I mention that already?).
Graham used to be for comprehensive immigration reform (remember the McCain-Kennedy proposal?), now, not so fast (the gays are ruining it!). In 2010, he actually said “any child born of illegal immigrants inside the borders of the United States should themselves be considered illegal immigrants”. 14th Amendment, anyone….Bueller? Graham – Gitmo detainee program = totally cool, after all, we did it with the Japanese in WWII (he said that). Graham, shaking his fists at the sky, he and his pal Joe Lieberman desperate to keep the photos of Abu Ghraib from ever seeing the light of day.
Graham. Bitter, after spending 8 years of his life trying to get his buddy McCain elected to the Presidency. Graham. Seems he can’t get over McCain’s colossal meltdown loss four years ago. Seems he’s not the only one.
John McCain is altogether another level of the grievous man. How far he has fallen, from once-admired, principled stalwart of the Senate, to blustery, grunting, angry old coot. It’s getting to be a bit embarrassing, and, a little late to save his legacy. But what is John McCain so angry about?
The answers are fairly obvious: Obama. Palin. Vietnam. War (that’s war, period). It’s been festering since his ’08 drubbing, though he will never cop to his disdain for Sarah Palin or the greatest blunder in the history of politics. But it’s brought to the surface everything else in the world John McCain thinks he has to be bitter and angry about. Oddly, he’s not angry with Bush 43 for sliming him in the 2000 campaign (see, South Carolina), or, for lying us all into a war of choice on false pretenses. As a man of war – a prisoner of war – John McCain is the poster child for misdirected anger. Anger at the world.
So instead, his rage – Graham’s too – manifests by clinging to a Benghazi “scandal”. And by aggressively and hostilely attacking his former friend, Chuck Hagel (and, to a lesser degree, John Kerry), making their confirmation hearings look like McCarthy-era witch hunts, because why? Because they disagree with him on the Iraq War surge. Oh, and because these two – McCain and Graham – pretty much the last holdover Bush neo-cons, maintain an absolute obsession with Iran. Listen to McCain’s RNC speech just last year; the man is itching to get into Iran. And China. And Russia. And Syria. Oh, and he’d have us withdraw from the United Nations, pronto.
John McCain has maintained an obsession with a tactical decision made in a war that has come to pass. He has pinned everything on being right about the damn “surge” and it has swallowed him whole. And, finally, dare I say, McCain’s anger is so suffocating, so all-consuming, because John Kerry and Chuck Hagel represent of Vietnam what McCain may never attain: two men who, by all appearances, seem to have exorcised their demons of that war, to have properly dealt with them. McCain and Graham. They would rather figure a way into other wars than talk about the one in which we are still fighting: Afghanistan. This is tragic, for all concerned.
McCain and Graham are so lost in the dark, not even Joe Lieberman loaded with infrared could find them.
[feature photo credit: apnews.com]; [other photo credit: thinkprogress.org]
[this article edited by Grace Holter]