John McCain and Lindsey Graham Can’t Stand It When Obama Has a Good Day

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 17 2014 2:31 PM

John McCain and Lindsey Graham Can’t Stand It When Obama Has a Good Day


Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

News came this morning that Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspected ringleader in the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, has been apprehended. Special forces captured Khattala in a covert raid over the weekend. For the families and friends who lost loved ones in that assault—including the family of former Amb. Christopher Stevens—this news may bring some small sense of solace.

Not so Republicans. Here is the early reaction from Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two of the president’s harshest Benghazi critics. McCain told Politico’s Scott Wong that Khattala ought to be held at Guantanamo, while Graham quickly put out a series of tweets:

The response from the GOP’s hawkish foreign policy duo is predictable. For nearly two years, Obama has been castigated for being ineffective, weak, and complacent about bringing the perpetrators of these murders to justice. (Republicans have even batted around the surreal idea of his impeachment over the matter.) The moment one of the supposed masterminds is apprehended, Obama all of sudden has nothing to do with it.


For McCain and Graham, the president is incapable of getting any credit for being the commander-in-chief when he has just overseen a successful operation. A victory against a common enemy is just another opportunity to suggest that Obama is a weak executive who doesn’t have a rational plan. (The mention of Guantanamo is a moment to neatly remind everyone both that the president hasn’t delivered on his promise to close it, and to suggest that Republicans, who believed in its legitimacy, were always thinking of a situation just like this. So, really, Republicans were right all along.)

It seems that for these senators, Obama only has his fingerprints on a policy when it’s failing. When it results in an unmitigated victory, he is somehow MIA.

Boer Deng is a Slate editorial assistant. Follow her on Twitter


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