McCain the Obstructionist?

On Face the Nation today discussing the potential nomination of Susan Rice as Secretary of State:

SCHIEFFER: Until then, you will remain opposed to her nomination?

MCCAIN: Under the present circumstances, until we find out all the information as to what happened, I don’t think you would want to support any nominee right now. Because this is very very serious and it has even larger implications than the deaths of 4 Americans. It really goes to the heart of this whole light foot print policy that this administration is pursuing.


It is, of course, stuff like this that makes me write as much as I have about the Benghazi situation. How this is an even that justified theoretically blocking any nominee for State is beyond me and strikes me as profoundly partisan and silly.

Beyond that:  my position on cabinet nominees is that if a president nominates a qualified individual for office there has to be a truly compelling reason for the Senate to oppose that nomination.  Petty partisanship does not qualify.

FILED UNDER: Political Theory, US Politics,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. As I said in my post the other day, there are plenty of reasons to oppose Rice for SecState that have nothing to do with Benghazi. McCain needs to stop being a Cranky Old Man.

  2. al-Ameda says:

    McCain has turned into the guy who now tells everyone to get off his lawn. In a town with many oversized egos, he certainly has a noticeable inflated sense of self-importance these days.

    I generally believe that a president should be able to appoint the Cbinet that he/she wants, however some positions – State, Defense, and Treasury – deserve more scrutiny and “consent” than others.

    State? Why not John Huntsman? (Okay, I probably stepped in it there).

  3. michael reynolds says:

    McCain needs a committee.

    But in January, the Arizona senator will lose his top-ranking committee seat due to term limits. The only ranking Republican spot available to him next session will be on the Indian Affairs Committee.

    Unless, that is, the Senate creates a brand-new select committee. On Wednesday, McCain, flanked by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), proposed just that: a select committee with extensive authority to investigate the Benghazi, Libya, attack and the U.S. government’s response.

    The Republican most likely to hold the ranking spot on such a panel would be, of course, John McCain, giving the Arizona senator a new burst of relevance.

    McCain is behind Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) in the line for the top Republican slot on the Senate Homeland Security Committee and does not sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    “He doesn’t have a clear path to do what he wants to do, and I think that’s part of what’s behind this proposal,” said a GOP Senate aide. The aide added that because investigation into the Benghazi affair will cut across the jurisdictions of several committees, the idea of a special panel has merit.

    He’s losing power. Basically he’ll be a loudmouth without portfolio. He wants a select committee so he can remain relevant and get himself and Senator Toady (R-SC) on Meet the Press.

    Even Lieberman has abandoned him on this.

    It’s over, Big John. You’re about to become ranking member on the Indian Affairs committee.

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Making Susan Rice Secretary of State is like putting Jon Corzine in charge of the SEC.

    But elections have consequences and the people just voted to go fully retarded. All part and parcel of the big decline.

  5. @Tsar Nicholas: Then he should make his case, not play this stupid Benghazi card.

    And, if you would note, this quote is not about Rice exclusively.

  6. JohnMcC says:

    Dr Taylor, there was a Senator McCain many years ago who would have agreed with you about the right of an executive to have the cabinet of his choice. Remember the Gang of 14 and the ‘nuclear option’? But I fall prey to the ‘hobgoblin of small minds’, that ‘consistency’ thing. Still…. Good times.

  7. legion says:

    His main criticism of Rice is that she didn’t know what the CIA knew about Benghazi, when we now know she was speaking directly from the CIA’s own approved declassifies talking points – something McCain himself would be aware of if he had gone to the briefing he himself demanded instead of grandstanding about crap he is completely uninformed about.

    He’s simply not fit for office any more, and is disgracing himself. Putting him on yet another committee will only make his remaining time in Congress that much more pathetic.