We've been looking at this Susan Rice controversy all wrong. Many people have puzzled as to why Republican senators, particularly John McCain, are fixated on what Rice said about the attacks in Benghazi during several Sunday talk-show appearances September 16. Rice had no role in securing the consulate, and she's not being asked to answer for its vulnerability. Instead, the dispute is very much about how closely she hewed to her talking points as a spokesperson for the administration on TV. If it all seems like a frenzy over something that matters very little to average American people and very much to a couple of long-serving American senators, you have to remember: talking points on talks shows are very, very important to the careers of long-serving senators. And Sunday talk shows are especially important to John McCain.
They even have a scorecard for this type of thing. In 2011, McCain fought back to second place on the list of most popular guests with 19 Sunday-show hits, just behind Michele Bachmann, who had 20. By November 27 of this year, McCain had recaptured the title, with 20 Sunday-show appearances. Who's in second place? Lindsey Graham, McCain's partner in Rice-chasing. (He was No. 3 in 2011 and 2010.)