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Uberti: John McCain is playing games with Syria

Sen. John McCain talks to reporters after leaving

Sen. John McCain talks to reporters after leaving a closed door meeting about Syria at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. (Sept. 4, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

Sen. John McCain is playing games when it comes to Syria -- and not just on his iPhone.

The Republican hawk said Wednesday morning he'd vote against a Senate resolution authorizing military force in Syria. It comes less than a day after Senate Foreign Relations Committee leaders crafted a draft proposal narrowly restricting intervention to a maximum of 90 days. The panel planned to meet again Wednesdy to mark up and potentially vote on the resolution, which could reach the Senate floor as early as next week.

McCain was seen playing poker on his iPhone Tuesday as cabinet members called for action, making him one of millions of Americans who can't pay sit through an entire meeting without checking something unrelated on a mobile device. It says more about technology's role in our lives than it does the sad state of affairs in Congress. And it confirms that McCain is, in fact, a mere mortal like the rest of us.

But come on: We're talking about lobbing $1.5-million Tomahawk cruise missiles into a foreign country. That's gambling with lives, strategic interests and taxpayer dollars -- a very real game of no-limit geopolitical hold 'em.

It's likely the Arizona Republican will resist peeking at his phone today, but that doesn't mean he's going to stop playing games.

McCain has repeatedly called on President Barack Obama to strike Bashar Assad's regime. After he and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) met with the president on Monday at the White House, McCain said Congress blocking the president from using force "would be catastrophic."

The lawmaker has juggled arguing for White House action and sparring with the isolationist wing of the GOP.

Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky have increasingly tall stacks of political chips. And as seen with Paul's 12-hour filibuster of domestic drone strikes in March, he's not afraid to put them all on the table.

But McCain is raising the stakes as well calling for language that outlines a specific plan to change momentum of the civil war and arm the Free Syrian Army. Tuesday's Foreign Relations Committee proposal expressly prohibits American boots on the ground, something McCain and Obama both oppose.

But the maverick senator appears as unfazed by his political wagers as he is by the bad press received on social media for fiddling with his iPhone.

"Scandal!" McCain's Twitter account posted Tuesday. "Caught playing iPhone game during 3+ hour Senate hearing - worst of all I lost!”

McCain's right. Playing iPhone poker isn't a big deal. But a cavalier attitude is, especially with cruise missiles standing by for launch.