During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday, committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) flipped out on anti-war protesters from Code Pink and referred to them as “low-life scum.” The hearing was to address global security challenges and the committee had invited former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to speak. Kissinger has long been a target of anti-war demonstrators due to his actions during the Vietnam War. The protesters showed up with signs and shouted directly at him.
Eventually, McCain interrupted and angrily shouted down the protesters, claiming that he’d never seen anything “as disgraceful” since he’s served on the committee.
“I’ve been a member of this committee for many years and I have never seen anything as disgraceful and outrageous and despicable as the last demonstration that just took place. You know, you’re going to have to shut up or I’m going have you arrested…Get out of here you low-life scum!”
Below is video of the interaction, courtesy of C-SPAN:
On one hand, it is understandable that a chairman overseeing a hearing is going to angrily react to a demonstration interrupting the proceedings. Especially if protesters are verbally attacking a guest who was brought forth to speak at a hearing. Regardless of your thoughts on free speech and right to protest, in the end, nobody running a scheduled meeting wants to deal with people shouting and causing a scene. It is natural for a person to ask those who are interrupting to leave or be quiet.
Now, on the other hand, the manner in which McCain reacted continues to paint him as a man with legitimate anger issues who cannot stand those who protest against war. Calling anti-war protesters “low-life scum” and saying, per an official statement, that a small protest is the worst thing he’s seen during his time in Congress shows his mindset. In his statement, McCain tried to make it appear that he reacted with such hyperbole because he believed Kissinger was being physically threatened by the protesters. OK, Code Pink demonstrators in a public hearing were totally going to whale on a 91-year-old guy. Got it.
Some gave their reactions on Twitter over McCain’s outburst.
Henry Kissinger makes John McCain look like the Pope, in the evil department.
— Ferrari Sheppard (@stopbeingfamous) January 30, 2015
Dear John McCain: the citizens you referred to as “low-life scum” yesterday had every right to be there in Congress. You serve THEM!!! — Tom Kidd (@FabulousThomasJ) January 30, 2015
— Lizz Brown (@lizzzbrown) January 30, 2015
Regardless of your thoughts on Code Pink or the interrupting of Congressional hearings with protests, one thing is clear — McCain’s well-earned reputation as an unhinged, bitter, angry man remains intact.