Just days after Salon.com published a tasteless screed in which a relatively unknown author attacked the military and insisted that his freedoms were more threatened than protected by the armed forces (a piece delightfully eviscerated by our own Jazz Shaw), this online magazine has the strange honor of publishing an exclusive interview with incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Beyond McCain’s odd decision to give the race and sex-obsessed Salon an exclusive interview, the senator made the even more perplexing decision to obliquely attack a fellow Republican in that interview.

McCain spoke with Salon’s Elias Isquith by phone as part of a promotional tour for an upcoming book and, to Isquith’s credit, the bar of Salon’s usual discourse was raised significantly during his conversation with a sitting senator and former Republican presidential nominee. But what Salon determined was the important aspect of that conversation did not occur until the end of the interview:

You mention Sen. McConnell promising to make the trains run on time; I gather you don’t agree with the “Ted Cruz’s Senate” narrative?

Oh, no. I was very pleased when one of the first things Mitch McConnell said yesterday was, “We’re not going to shut down the government again.” I think that you just saw a McCain-Graham injection into the United State Senate — Joni Ernst, comes from the military; Tom Cotton, comes from the military; Dan Sullivan, comes from the military … I’ve campaigned for literally every one of them and I have not seen any indication that they are of that desire for confrontation. And I was with most of them when they campaigned and said, “I’ll go to Washington and get things done.”

This did not quite live up to this post’s headline which teased the reader with the prospect of seeing precisely how “John McCain unloads to Salon on Ted Cruz,” but McCain’s comments nevertheless were a clear shot at the junior Texas senator’s style.

It is no secret that the Texas senator ruffles the feathers of his more tenured colleagues, but McCain chose an odd venue in which to vent his concerns. Conservatives will rightly cringe at McCain for giving liberals ammunition to craft a narrative which suggests the GOP is roiled by internal strife. For his part, Cruz will be perfectly justified in scolding his critic for taking his argument to the farthest of far-left venues in order to receive a favorable hearing.

Even conservatives who have been critical of Cruz’s excesses in the past have to ask: What was John McCain thinking?