McCain: Pentagon spokesman is an ‘idiot’

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 Trump set to have close ally Graham in powerful chairmanship Cindy McCain takes aim at Trump: We need a strong leader, 'not a negative Nancy' MORE (R-Ariz.) blasted the Pentagon’s top spokesman as an “idiot,” stepping up his criticism of the Defense Department’s handling of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

McCain has argued that the U.S. strategy is not working and reacted angrily to the Pentagon’s claim that the strikes against ISIS are effective.


“It’s the most amazing thing — the spin and the lies out of this White House,” McCain said in a radio interview last week. “It’s unbelievable. This idiot Admiral Kirby was asked, I think yesterday ... ‘John McCain says that we are losing, what do you say?’

“The guy, you gotta run it, you gotta run it,” he continued, urging the radio hosts to play Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby’s comments. “Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. I mean, it’s amazing.

The war of words began on Oct. 12, when McCain told CNN that the Obama administration must do more to combat ISIS, including sending U.S. special forces into the Middle East to coordinate airstrikes against the terror group.

“They're winning, and we're not,” McCain said of ISIS.

On Oct. 15 Kirby was asked to respond to McCain's comments. He said the U.S.-led coalition was having “some success” against the militant group.

“We know we're having some success. We know we're making progress. But it's going to take a long time,” he said, according to an official Pentagon transcript. “And just as readily, I'll say there's going to be days, there's going to be moments where we're set back, and not just — and when I say we, I mean the big we, and not just the United States, but our coalition partners and — and that includes Iraqi security forces.

In his radio interview, McCain slammed Kirby’s comments.

“How can they possibly now, with ISIS taking about two-thirds of the [Syrian] city of Kobani, they’re saying this is effective?” he said, in comments first reported by BuzzFeed.

McCain is widely expected to become chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, should Republicans win control of the upper chamber in November’s midterm election.

The chairmanship would give McCain responsibility for crafting the Senate’s version of the Pentagon’s annual budget and policy blueprint, and give him a prominent role overseeing the administration’s fight against ISIS.

The five-term lawmaker is up for reelection in 2016 but has not said if he will seek another term. McCain could face a primary challenge from the right.