Sunday, April 20, 2008

John McCain: Temperamentally Unfit for the Presidency

While Democrats watch the back and forth of the primary campaigns, which are starting to look, to many, as a fight that continues despite the fact that the outcome is all but decided, John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, gallivants around the country without any public scrutiny whatsoever.
Well, almost.

What about this Washington Post piece by Michael Leahy that was published early this morning (4/20/08)? It is an instructive piece that bears reading from front to back (warning, four pages).

Leahy writes of the famous, some say infamous, McCain temper. A temper that has impelled former friends and aides to question whether having McCain in the Oval Office is necessarily a good idea. He includes anecdotal verifications from witnesses of some of McCain’s past behavior, with a temper that has been called “erratic” and “volcanic”.

Some excerpts from witnesses and targets of McCain’s temper have these things to say:

“Former senator Bob Smith, a New Hampshire Republican, expresses worries about McCain: ‘His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him.’”

“’I heard about his temper more from others,’ said Grant Woods, McCain's first congressional chief of staff, who is generally regarded as McCain's closest confidant in his early political years. ‘According to them, he really unleashed on some of them, and they couldn't figure out why. . . . It happened enough that it was affecting his credibility with some people. If you wanted a programmed, subdued, always-on-message politician, he wasn't and will never be your guy.’”

“’What happens if he gets angry in crisis" in the presidency?’ Hinz asked. ‘It's difficult enough to be a negotiator, but it's almost impossible when you're the type of guy who's so angry at anybody who doesn't do what he wants. It's the president's job to negotiate and stay calm. I don't see that he has that quality.’”

Now listen. Over the past 7 years, Americans have been subjected to a president who has been intransigent in foreign policy, a president who has used his veto stamp more often than any other, a president who will not deal with the other branches of government to such an extent, that he creates one constitutional crisis after another. I am fairly certain that we Americans were not prepared for that. But this is different. Here we have a guy who will be the Republican presidential nominee with a 20-year track record of stubborn and angry intransigence, heated and self-elevating denigration of others. A man who makes enemies wherever he goes and has a long, long memory of people who have opposed him; a man with a vindictive streak almost as long.

With the recent turn of events in last week’s debate between Clinton and Obama, where the media has defended somewhere between 45 and 63 minutes of concentration on personal trivia rather than issues, we are now told that we know enough about how close the two candidates are on issues, but do not know about how they are as people. This, the media is now saying, is what was behind the Stephanopoulos and Gibson tag team trash talk that they called a debate.

Fine. That being the case, that people don’t care about the issues, but do care about how they “feel” about the candidates, whether they can trust this one more than that one, I say, fine. Then consider this: John McCain is temperamentally unsuited to be President of the United States. At best, what we can hope for if this man becomes president is a world that derides yet another president who cannot negotiate himself out of a wet paper bag.

At worst, we can expect endless war.

Well . . . no. I guess that’s not the worst case scenario. In the worst case, we can have a man in the Oval Office with an unchecked temper when the situation absolutely requires cool heads. A recipe for disaster.

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