Sen. John McCain, He’s Got Jokes

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., delivers a laugh line Thursday afternoon at the Brookings Institution in Washington. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

He’s the Senate’s self-described “Maverick.” Washington cocktail hours and reporter scrums often include tales of his irascible side, be it a snippy one-on-one conversation in the halls of Congress or a passionate floor speech.

But, make no mistake, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has a sharp — if dry — sense of humor. And it was on display Thursday during an appearance at the Brookings Institution.

McCain has seemed to regain some prominence in Washington lately, and seems as energized as ever. And when “Johnny Mac” is energized, he lets fly with the zingers.

He wasted no time, beginning his speech about a new American foreign policy for the Middle East by poking the liberal-leaning think tank in true McCain jocular fashion:

“It is always a pleasure to return to the Brookings Institution, this bastion of conservative thought. It is nice to see so many friends, as well as a few enemies, in the audience this afternoon. I would like to make a few opening remarks, and then I’d be happy to respond to any comments, or questions, or insults you may have.”

The “Maverick” of the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” also jabbed at the Senate:

“It tires people out working for the president. It doesn’t tire people out working in the Senate, obviously. We never miss a recess.”

After noting how tough it is for the U.S. foreign policy and national security apparatus to predict global events, the GOP’s interventionist in chief showed his comedic timing is as sharp as ever:

“If anyone saw this coming in Turkey, please raise your hand. (Dramatic pause, for effect.) I’d like to get to know you better.”

The one-time “Straight Talk Express” passenger and populist presidential candidate drew knowing nods from audience members when he teed off on Washington, D.C. traffic between Dupont Circle and Capitol Hill:

“We have to get through this traffic out here. It takes 45 minutes to get a block.”

McCain turned to a humorous anecdote late in his appearance when acknowledging Congress is not very effective and not very well liked by voters:

“I was in [Washington’s] National Airport recently and a guy ran up and said, ‘Has anyone ever told you that you look a lot like Sen. John McCain?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Doesn’t it make you mad as Hell’?”

The laughfest ended with one quip that might hit Intercepts readers — in typical McCain fashion — a little close to their paychecks:

“Why are we spending about $800 billion on defense if we can’t take out Syria’s air defenses? [If that’s the case,] you’re being ripped off, my friends.”

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett