Okay, I disagree strongly with John McCain and, certainly during the Don't Ask, Don't Tell hearings he made me want to toss a cream pie at him to say the least. But I don't go into a hearing he'll be in with dread. I'm trying to get across that I don't hate him. He's not my type of senator but I don't hate him. (And there are a lot of Republicans, as you know if you've read my reports, that I really enjoy in Committee hearings.)
So here's my quandary: Have I bought into my side's hype?
McCain's become the Most Evil Of Them All to those of us on the left but I thought I was immune to that because I don't follow the echo chamber.
Maybe I'm not.
In his opening statements today, McCain told a little joke (or what he thought was one) and then laughed and it seemed like it should have been charming. But it creeped me out. It was like something a villain (or more likely a villainess) would do in a Disney animated film. I don't mean a brief shudder, I mean I stared at him through the bulk of the rest of his statement not hearing a word he was saying and just think, "He is so creepy."
So was he that creepy or have I bought into the left echo chamber?
I've been going to these hearings with C.I. regularly since 2006 (I went to many in 2005 as well) and I've heard McCain speak many times and never been creeped out. At times, I've found him funny and even charming in hearings. So maybe it's just me but that was what occupied my thoughts for the first round of questions: When did he get so creepy or is it just me?
So what did he say? Carl Levin had welcomed the new members and one returning member (returning after a brief absence -- that was John Cornyn of Texas) and when McCain had his turn, he noted that he joined Levin in welcoming the new members. Levin had spoken of how the Senate Armed Services Committee truly was a bi-partisan Committee. So in McCain's opening statement, after welcoming the new members, he declared, "Our bipartisanship is not devoid of passion when we occassionally disagree on an issue heh-heh-heh."
If he'd been animated, he would have been a vulture in a Disney movie.
Again, maybe it was me and my mood but that was scary. (No, I wasn't on acid. Haven't dropped in years. But it truly was like a bad acid trip.) (John McCain can respond: "Crazy hippy had an acid flashback!")
Looking over C.I.'s notes, I see that McCain ended his opening statement by noting Camp Ashraf. I find that issue interesting and it's a sign of how creeped out I was that I wasn't even aware of it until I grabbed C.I.'s notes (we're all sharing them as we do our posts -- Ava, Wally and me).
Kelly Ayotte is a Republican Senator and I believe this was her first time asking questions on this Committee. (Possibly on any. She was just sworn in last month.) She handled herself well. I disagreed with her take (she wants the US to work on getting Iraq to ask the US military to stay). She's not of my belief system but it was her first hearing and I'll note that she did a good job. (I'm grading that in comparison to the other members of the Committee and also in comparison to the 2006 and 2008 freshman in the House and Senate and how they conducted themselves in their early Committee appearances.) So if she's your senator and you're for the war, you'd be proud of her. (I, of course, am against the war.) And she was so much better than Jim Webb (some of whose words I could've agreed with a great deal).
The SOFA and the Security Agreement, Webb noted, "are not airtight" and he then noted some members of the Committee believe that the US military should remain in Iraq. Are we discussing the notion of keeping bases in Iraq for domestic concerns or to launch attacks on other countries, Webb wanted to know?
Jeffrey replied by noting his National Security work in 2008 that the US is not to have permanent bases, they are not to use Iraq as a staging ground to fight other countries.
My impression? Jeffrey knows there's a 95% chance Nouri's going to ask the US military to stay in some capacity. He already knows that.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"