COMMENTARY | NASHUA, N.H., Sept. 17 — Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, bitterly denounced President Barack Obama at a Veterans for Romney-Ryan Town Hall in Nashua, N.H. McCain threw his famed bipartisanship and “Country First” slogan under the Romney campaign bus as he blamed Obama for the Middle East turmoil that claimed the life of Libyan ambassador Chris Stevens.
McCain indicted Obama for the death of Stevens, who was killed in an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. Saying he had recently visited with Stevens, McCain sarcastically laid into the Obama administration for claiming that the sacking of the consulate was a spontaneous event related to an inflammatory video that attacked the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Calling it “an act of terror,” McCain said, “You don’t bring rocket propelled grenades and heavy weapons to a demonstration unless you’re going to do more that demonstrate.”
He claimed that the Middle East violence was a result of Obama’s failure to lead as both president and as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. McCain also launched into a defense of the First Amendment right to make inflammatory videos that Obama seemingly had undermined.
All have been talking points of the right-wing meme machine since Mitt Romney made his heavily criticized attack on the Obama Administration after the Benghazi attack. Romney erroneously characterized the U.S. Embassy in Egypt for having apologized for the video.
Ayotte & Bass
Appearing at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 483 with McCain were U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who lives in Nashua, and U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass, who represents New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District.
Ayotte, in particular, rose to the level of invective spat out by an angry McCain. She even heightened the attack to include the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who she claimed had been duplicitous over leaks concerning Israel. Ayotte implied the Joint Chiefs were in Obama’s pocket, a dubious assumption.
Charlie Bass capitalized on the occasion to launch an attack on Obama’s economic policies. Unlike McCain and Kelly Ayotte’s husband Joe Daley, Bass is not a veteran, despite the fact he came of draft age during the Vietnam War.
As veteran, I was disappointed by Sen. McCain. I had last seen him in Manchester, N.H., when he endorsed Mitt Romney for president shortly before the 2012 New Hampshire primary. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who had borrowed McCain’s “Country First” mantra for his own campaign slogan, had been counting on the McCain endorsement. I wound up voting for Huntsman regardless.
My impression of McCain at the Romney endorsement event was that he was bitter over his defeat by Barack Obama and wanted to back the candidate who had the best chance to defeat his former rival. At the time, McCain’s rhetoric as regards the president seemed rather intemperate.
When I shook Sen. McCain’s hand after the Manchester endorsement, I had considered it a privilege.
I would not have shaken his hand today if the opportunity arose. I believe the Senator shamed himself by politicizing the tragedy in Libya. He had replaced “Country First” with a new mantra: “GOP First.”