President Obama has not yet nominated U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice to succeed Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State, but Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) isn't waiting to throw a tantrum.
"She's not qualified," said McCain on CBS "This Morning," citing Rice's handling of the September attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead.
"Anyone who goes on national television in defiance of the facts five days later -- we're all responsible for what we say and what we do. I'm responsible to my voters. She is responsible to the Senate of the United States. We have our responsibilities for advice and consent," he added.
Asked if he would block a Rice nomination, potentially even filibustering her, McCain replied, "Yes." In other words, the failed Republican presidential candidate wouldn't only oppose Rice, he hopes to prevent the Senate from voting on the re-elected president's choice to head the State Department, regardless of the wishes of the majority.
Given the senator's record, foreign policy doesn't appear to be one of McCain's strong points, so it's not terribly surprising that he's confused about Rice and Benghazi. But the truth really isn't that complicated: Rice hasn't done anything wrong. She didn't "go on national television in defiance of the facts"; she went on national television and "very carefully, and very professionally, passed along what was, at the time, the considered judgment of the intelligence community."
Indeed, McCain continues to refer to the deadly attack in Benghazi as some kind of political fiasco, despite the fact that there's no meaningful evidence to back this up, short of Republican chest-pounding. The partisan hysteria -- complete with unhinged conspiracy theories -- is getting out of hand.
But let's take this one step further, and remind McCain of the not-too-distant past.
After George W. Bush won a second term in 2004, he wanted a different Rice -- then-NSA Condoleezza Rice -- to be Secretary of State. Rice, of course, had said all kinds of ridiculous things on national television in defiance of the facts, including several notorious references to "mushroom clouds."
Bush nominated her anyway. She was confirmed 85 to 13. McCain voted for her and Democrats made no effort to block Rice's confirmation vote. (Update: both Obama and Biden were in the Senate at the time, and both supported her confirmation.)
What's the difference eight years later? Susan Rice is more qualified for the job; she has actual experience in international diplomacy; and unlike Condoleezza Rice, the comments she made during television interviews actually reflected the judgment of the intelligence community.