Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain does not have a high opinion of Pentagon press secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby. Speaking with North Carolina conservative talk radio last week, McCain said Kirby was an "idiot."
"It's the most amazing thing. It's the most amazing thing," McCain said on the Tyler Cralle Show on 980 WAAV-AM last week. "The spin and the lies out of this White House. I mean, it's unbelievable."
"This idiot Admiral Kirby was asked, I think yesterday, that said, 'John McCain says that we are losing, what do you say?' The guy, you gotta run it, you gotta run it. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. I mean, it's amazing."
Here's the transcript of the exchange with Admiral Kirby at a Pentagon press conference McCain was responding to:
Q: What would you say about Sen. McCain's assessment that IS, the Islamic State, is winning and that the U.S.-led coalition is not?
REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, I'm not going to -- I would just tell you that we believe that -- let me put it this way. It's going to be a long fight. It's going to be difficult. There's going to be setbacks. There's going to be wins, and there's going to be losses.
The -- we're mindful of the complicated nature of this. And we're also very mindful of the fact that -- and I've said it before -- military power, military action is not going to be decisive in and of itself. It's just not going to work that way.
But the situation changes every day. And so I'm not going to qualify who's winning or who's losing today. This is -- this -- the strategy is still sound, but you don't judge the success of a strategy based on a day or a week or even several weeks.
We are -- we believe -- and we've said it before -- that we're in this -- we all need to be in this for a matter of years. And for us after just a couple of months going at it, we've only been doing airstrikes since August 8th, to -- to make a decisive, you know, statement that we're winning or losing -- well, I can tell you is that there are -- there are areas where we are having success. We have definitely made it harder for ISIL to sustain itself and to operate. They are continuing to feel the pressure, which is one of the reasons why we think they're going after Kobani so badly.
I mean, I think part of it is they really want a win, because they're not getting a win everywhere. They are getting pressured inside Iraq. The Iraqi security forces are stiffening themselves around Baghdad, and Baghdad remains secure.
So it's a mixed picture, Phil. I mean, I don't mean to ramble, but it's a mixed picture. And I don't think it's -- I don't think it's militarily -- because I can't speak for, you know, other elements of the government, but, I mean, I'd say, from a military perspective, it does no one any service to try to, you know, make a call on any given day.
We know we're having some success. We know we're making progress. But it's going to take a long time. 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.
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.