It was really painful to watch. John McCain, the hawkish old soldier at the Senate hearing, scolding John Kerry in the hushed tones of a discreet insider. John McCain, with the haphazard expertise that the Sunday morning TV news panels regularly find so seductive.

With the annoyed secretary of state sitting before him, the Republican senator from Arizona would, by God, let everyone in TV-land know that the foreign policy of the President, in general, as effected by Kerry, was a mess in the hands of the weakest in the universe. The same John McCain who was censured by his wacko home-state GOP in January for being, of all things, “too liberal”.

Against Kerry, the old solider met his match by another old soldier.

Let’s pick up the story from there:

“My hero Teddy Roosevelt used to say talk softly and carry a big stick,” the senator intoned. “What you are doing is talking strongly and carrying a very small stick. In fact, a twig.”

He accused the other side of the “logic of appeasement” by failing to give Ukraine the weapons to defend itself from a war-like Russia. Another war with American bombs? Another quagmire? Or worse? He didn’t say.

Remarkably, Kerry was ready for the Teddy Roosevelt thing.

“Your friend Teddy Roosevelt,” Kerry said, with bristles shaping his words, “also said the credit belongs to the people who are in the arena trying to get things done. And we’re trying to get something done. That’s Teddy Roosevelt’s maxim, and I abide by it.”

As a bomb thrower ready to annihilate the enemy, McCain’s hostility encouraged one to recall the words, not of the old Rough Rider but rather of Gen. MacArthur, who once solemnly asserted, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away”.

The pathetic old soldier from Arizona should stop his endless bid to be relevant long enough to read the transcript of that earlier moment.