Donald Trump’s insinuation that President Obama endorses the jihadist murder of American citizens is among the recent remarks that have provoked a lot of off-the-record grumbling by Republican officials who think he’s ruining their party’s image. It would perhaps be useful, then, for the GOP if one of its senior figures were to forcefully denounce Trump’s rhetoric, reiterating that the party rejects such smear tactics and believes in debating the issues of the day without resorting to McCarthy-esque innuendo. Perhaps that figure could be someone with a bipartisan reputation as a truth-telling “maverick,” someone with credibility on national security issues, someone like senator and former presidential candidate John McCa—oh, wait.
Hmm. Maybe he was misquoted?
Welp. (McCain, for what it’s worth, has tweeted that he was “referring to Pres Obama’s national security decisions” and “not to the President himself,” but I’m not sure that distinction has much meaning.)
As many observers pointed out immediately after his remarks, McCain supported the invasion of Iraq, which created the anarchy in which ISIS was founded and became a threat; Obama opposed the war. And then there’s the fact that it’s not even clear that ISIS knew about the Orlando attack before it happened. And the fact that shooter Omar Mateen cluelessly pledged allegiance to a several different rival jihadist organizations in addition to ISIS and was long known to have unstable and violent tendencies that had nothing to do with politics or religion.
In summary, John McCain is not going to be the Republican Party’s voice of reason on this one.