President Obama announced Wednesday night that U.S. airpower in coordination with ground troops would pursue Islamic State militants "wherever they are" — including throughout Iraq and Syria (from whom we presumably won't be asking permission).
It really didn't take much time at all for the president's four-step plan to "destroy" IS to become a brutal punching match all its own on cable news, with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) brawling with former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on CNN:
McCain was really on the offense during the segment, insisting to Carney that Obama had turned his back on the moderate Syrian opposition while letting IS spread unchecked throughout Iraq. "Facts are stubborn things, Mr. Carney," the senator said, "and that is, his entire national security team, including his secretary of state, said 'We want to arm, train and equip these people,' and he made the unilateral decision to turn them down. And the fact that he didn't leave a residual force in Iraq, overruling all of his military advisers, is the reason why we're facing ISIS today." McCain continued on to say he had personally met members of the Syrian opposition and said they needed weaponry.
McCain went on to specify that he was strongly in favor of raining bombs on Islamic State militants wherever they were and arming the Syrian opposition, which he's been calling for since the beginning of the crisis. But he insisted that the nation as a whole was less safe, because Obama's weak guidance had prevented the U.S. from curbing IS earlier.
Carney — who was literally hired just today by CNN — kind of stumbled out of the gate.
But he did make the credible counterpoint that it would be a "whitewash of history to suggest that there wasn't periods of enormous chaos and fighting and bloodshed in Iraq when there were tens of thousands of American troops on the ground. That is a fact ... we cannot ask ... our military to be a permanent occupying force in a country like Iraq. We have to get to a situation when we can help build up and assist an Iraqi security force, where we can put pressure on Iraqi political leaders to form an inclusive government ... [and the kind of military support" Obama is now providing.
McCain and Carney then argued about the exact withdrawal date for U.S. troops from Iraq, before the senator basically accused him of lying.
For the record, for all McCain's insistence that "I was there in Syria. We knew them," that didn't stop him from possibly being accidentally photographed with a terrorist kidnapper last June.