McCain vs. Kerry, the nasty feud goes on

Senator John McCain, a Republican P hotographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg ***
Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.) (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

 

Seems Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has taken of late to smacking his “friend” Secretary of State John Kerry for being an overly frequent flyer.

Back in November, McCain made some news. “This guy (Kerry)  has been a human wrecking ball,” he said in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg at the Washington Ideas Forum.

“They don’t know from one hour to the next where the plane is going,” McCain said. Washington’s Mideast policy “is in such disarray,” he added. “Fly into Riyadh and talk to the king of Saudi Arabia. Fly into Egypt and praise their steps toward democracy.”

Kerry reportedly called McCain after that blast, and the two talked it over. We had hoped they had worked things out.

Apparently not. A couple of weeks ago, McCain renewed the criticism after Kerry spoke in Indonesia about climate change as “a weapon of mass destruction.”

“So he has to go over to Asia” and talk about that? McCain asked on “The Mike Broomhead Show” on Phoenix radio, noting more immediate concerns Kerry should focus on, such as the massive carnage in Syria, Iranian nuclear ambitions and so on. He accused Kerry of “butterflying around the world,” asking: “Hello? On what planet does he reside?”

Yikes!

Well, we used to think substantial travel actually came with the job of being secretary. So let’s look at the travel data. According to the State Department’s Web site, Kerry took 20 trips abroad in 2013. Ten of those trips took him to the Middle East. In addition, some of the European trips also involved negotiations on Mideast issues.

As it turns out, McCain, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security committee’s investigations subcommittee, does a pretty solid amount of traveling himself, according to the Senate’s  quarterly reports.

We counted 12 foreign trips by McCain in 2013. By way of comparison, that’s about twice as many as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s top GOP member, Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), took last year.

Like Kerry, half of McCain’s trips (six) took him to  the Middle East. He also did an Asia swing through Japan, China, Mongolia and South Korea, and made a trip to Ukraine.

McCain’s fact-finding trips, as we’ve often noted, are business, not boondoggles. But he and his accompanying staff have racked up over a couple hundred thousand dollars in travel expenses — not counting the costs of any military jets.

We can safely assume Kerry’s trips on his plane are hugely expensive, but working on deals on Mideast peace, Syria’s chemical weapons, and Iran’s nukes might be worth going an extra mile or two. 

The chief difference, of course, is McCain can assess and investigate. Kerry’s actually got to do some very heavy lifting in a lot of difficult places.

In any event, this year’s looking pretty good on the travel front. Kerry was in super-tony Davos, Switzerland in January for the World’s Greatest Gabfest (WGG).

Hey! So was McCain.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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Al Kamen · February 27