McCain v. Rice: The Unceremonious Quashing of a Candidate

I waited to have the last word on this. With Susan Rice "out" and John Kerry "in" and all but certain to be confirmed by Congress as the next secretary of state, I can't let it rest.

I am weary of hearing every news commentator and pundit preface his or her criticism of John McCain with praise for him as a hero. By my measure, McCain is no longer a hero, he's a coward. He may have been a hero when he was a prisoner of war, but that was half-a-lifetime ago, and for the bulk of the four decades since, given piddling evidence of valor or gallantry to the contrary, he's progressively earned yellower stripes.

Presently, I consider him a coward for attacking a woman. Worse, I think he's a coward for attacking a woman to get to a man. Worst of all worsts, he's a coward for attacking a black woman to get to a black man.

A childishly-aging, bitter man, McCain's still foaming at the mouth (and, if bile foams, wherever it does so) over having lost a presidential race -- legitimately and indeed with brains-beat-out decisiveness -- to, of all things under the sun, a relative upstart bearing a disadvantageous name: Barack Hussein Obama. Throughout history, biography and mythology, heroes are chronicled in detail, but nowhere, not even in Shakespeare, the Bible, Freud or Confucius -- not even in Machiavelli! -- can I find "bitter," or any synonym for it, cited as an attribute of a hero.

By accepted consensus, a hero is someone others regard as a role model or ideal. By bullying and disparaging U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, John McCain emulated no more than a man whose sole authority stems from wielding a whip in his hand. Simon Legree is not the stuff of heroes, and no longer is John McCain.

The Senator should take another good, unjaundiced look at Susan Rice. Showing exemplary mettle, she withdrew her name from consideration for a position she merited and coveted, the nation's next Secretary of State. By so doing, she put country before politics, ideals before aspirations and personal ambition. She'll never be decorated for it, but that's what I call heroism -- and class.

What exactly was Rice's transgression? In service to her bosses and to the nation she has served so well, she went on Sunday TV -- five TV shows, to be exact -- standing in for other spokespeople of stature who don't like to give up their Sundays to go on TV -- and gave accounts of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that were prepared for her by our country's intelligence services. She relied on the accuracy and verity of those intelligence services! To oblige the people's right, and thirst, to know, she spoke before she had all the facts, an act so dire that Senator McCain pounced on her -- all but jumped up and down on her windpipe -- before he had all the facts! In fact, the super-patriot U.S. Senator was so fired up by his duty to protect the country not from terrorism or military attack, but from that insidious enemy, misinformation, that he concurrently skipped a classified briefing in the Capitol building on the updated facts, conducted by the government's uppermost diplomatic, military, intelligence and counter-terrorism officials before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (of which McCain is a member!), to hold a press conference in another part of the building to call for a special committee to respond to the "many unanswered questions" he opted to skip at the briefing!

Flanked by his two bobble-headed dolls, Senators Lindsey Graham (another member of the committee playing hooky) and Kelly Ayote, McCain declared -- once again, in case his viewers missed it on Fox News the first or second time -- his intention to get to the bottom of the case. And I saw shades of the old John McCain, a man of action: if anyone can get to the bottom of anything, and stay there as long as it takes, John McCain has proven he's our man.

McCain's head is engorged with arrogant illusions: he should be the president of the United States; he should be the titular czar of his party; he should be adhered to and exalted by all who call themselves Americans; he should not be relegated to the shoulders of the country's byroads, but hoisted onto the shoulders of its citizenry.

Heroes are defined as stout-hearted and lion-hearted, quixotic and courtly, major league and mythical. By no written, oral or pictorial description of record are they deemed arrogant -- except when depicted as cartoon characters with jutting jaws and swiping paws. Or disproportionately large bobble-heads.

John McCain may have succeeded in having a major hand in doing what he otherwise couldn't do -- getting an upper hand on President Obama, no matter how nastily or temporally, by discrediting the president's reputed first choice for Secretary of State before he even had a chance to propose her. But by denying the senator victory -- again, by withdrawing her name from consideration, Susan Rice won, and won with distinction.