Thursday, July 03, 2008

Anger mismanagement, McCain-style

By Michael J.W. Stickings

As Biloxi's Sun Herald is reporting, Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, a Republican, has told the story of how his colleague John McCain once got into "a physical confrontation" on a diplomatic mission in Central America:

Cochran said he observed McCain engage in a physical confrontation with a Sandinista while participating in a diplomatic mission led by Sen. Bob Dole and others in the fall of 1987. Cochran, McCain -- who had won election to the Senate that year -- and other members of a bipartisan committee of lawmakers called the Central American Negotiations Observer Group -- met with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, head of the left-wing political party known as Sandinistas, about tensions in the region.

The atmosphere was tense, as the U.S. was pressing "pretty hard." Cochran noticed a disturbance at the meeting table in a room lined with armed personnel.

"McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerilla group here at this end of the table and I don't know what attracted my attention," Cochran said. "But I saw some kind of quick movement at the bottom of the table and I looked down there and John had reached over and grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever. I don't know what he was telling him but I thought, good grief, everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission. I don't know what had happened to provoke John but he obviously got mad at the guy and he just reached over there and snatched him."

No punches were thrown and the two sat back down, Cochran said. The man, who appeared ruffled after the confrontation with McCain, was an Ortega associate, but Cochran said he was unsure of his identity.

Some might say that getting rough with the Sandinistas -- or at least with one of them -- was a sign of genuine toughness, that the Sandinistas deserved it, that McCain acted courageously even in the face of grave danger.

And, sure, it happened a long time ago. So what?

But what's interesting is that McCain is denying Cochran's allegation. And why would he not? Americans like their leaders tough, I suppose, but the story only reinforces the apt characterization of McCain as a guy with a terrible temper, a guy with some anger issues, even as a guy with a screw or two loose.

What's more, such outlandish and violent behaviour is hardly presidential. Does it not speak to a certain lack of judgement, especially in the face of grave danger, tension, and conflict, that is, when a president needs it most?

The denial is a matter of course. There's a lot about McCain, the real McCain lurking behind the faux maverick, straight-talker facade, that McCain doesn't want getting out.

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  • Where has reason gone ? Has anyone bothered to look at McCain's arms ? The man is a Tyranosaurus Rex. What Cochran describes is a physical impossibility ! These underdeveloped arms of Senator McCain's come from one arm being broken when he was shot down over Vietnam, and the other broken during interrogation. Neither, of course, received proper medical attention at the Hanoi Hilton.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:06 PM  

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