John McCain, Non-Entity
It’ll be interesting to watch the Armed Services Committee hearing today on [President-elect Barack] Obama’s Pentagon picks in part to see how John McCain behaves.
As he returns to Congress, McCain is for the first time in many years not running for president. My guess is he will be essentially the same, but tougher and even less controllable, especially on issues like the future of the super-expensive F-22 fighter.
As it happens, I was there, and McCain was conspicuous for being a non-factor this morning.
Rather than being tougher and less controllable, he was docile and polite, arriving at the hearing late — he was introducing Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Secretary-designee, to the Senate Government Affairs Committee — and making a brief but hurried speech supporting the nominees as they tackle the “great challenges” facing the Pentagon, including “disengagement Iraq [and] further engagement in Afghanistan.” He didn’t ask any questions and left soon after he was done talking.
Still, to demonstrate that Tom Ricks is a defense Jedi, one of the few programs McCain mentioned was the F-22.