“Despite his public support for Bush after 9/11, McCain had deep misgivings about him as Commander in Chief. In March 2002, he and two other Senators were at the White House, briefing Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser, about their recent meetings with European allies when Bush unexpectedly stuck his head in the door. ‘Are you all talking about Iraq?’ the President asked, his voice tinged with schoolyard bravado. Before McCain and the others in the room could do more than nod, Bush waved his hand dismissively. ‘F___ Saddam,’ he said. ‘We’re taking him out.’ And then he left.
McCain was appalled. He was a Republican, and a hawk, and exactly one year later he would enthusiastically support the decision to topple the Iraqi regime by force. But to McCain, his encounter with Bush that day was more evidence of the shallow intellect and dangerous self-regard possessed by the man to whom he had lost an acrimonious contest two years earlier. Later, McCain would retell the story and shake his head incredulously. ‘Can you believe this guy?’ he asked. ‘He’s the President!’ He didn’t say it, but the continuation of the thought hung in the air: Can you believe this guy is President — instead of me?”