McCain and Self Control

When I discuss Senator John McCain, especially in the context of whether he should be our next president or not, I try to follow a set of guidelines. There are areas I won’t go, such as attempting to mock him for his service, or to suggest that his five and a half years as a POW made him crazy.

Some should note that this is much more grace that a Democrat shows a Republican than Republicans showed Democrat Max Cleland who had left a number of his appendages back in Vietnam.

But while there are aspects of the man’s career and personal life that I respect, that’s not to say that I think he would be a good president. I don’t even necessarily believe that he would be a safe president, and the Washington Post provides a lengthy article that digs pretty deep into one of the reasons why.

The topic is McCain’s famous temper. It’s a fascinating history that chronicles physical altercations and expletives used on colleagues, but for some reason the bit that really jumped out and grabbed me is this one right here:

“I’m not saying he doesn’t have a temper, but it’s governable,” Salter said. “When he has a heated argument, it’s usually with one of his peers, who are unaccustomed to being addressed that way by anyone, really. Sometimes he can’t govern his tongue. He’s just blunt — he’s a straightforward person.”

To be sure, there’s not a whole that might jump out at most people in this, but it bothers me a great deal. McCain’s temper is enough, alone, to give me second thoughts about his qualifications to be President of the United States. I don’t want someone with a quick temper and immature ways of expressing anger to be the Commander in Chief of the military.

But there is something unquestionably Bushian about McCain revealed in this defense of him. Not to say that being straightforward isn’t a virtue, by all rights it is, but it is not the only virtue, and in context with McCain it seems largely to be a virtue used to excuse, or hide a fatal flaw.

In fact, we’re not just talking about Bush’s inability to string together a coherent sentence, of JFK’s declaration that he is a jelly donut to a bunch of Germans. No, those are gaffes. What this streak in McCain indicates is someone who is poorly equipped not only to make the right decisions regarding war and peace, but someone who won’t intentionally and uncontrollably antagonize other nations.

The world we live in balances on a precarious peak. The promise of war is all about us while the hope for peace is delicate, and one of the greatest apprehensions I harbor regarding John McCain is that he is too cowboy, and not enough caution. That his temper will flare at the wrong time, and that his inability to “govern his tongue” will only lead to more chaos on the world stage.

Words do matter, and when it comes to John McCain words like “blunt,” “straight-talk,” and “fiery,” are very attractive words indeed. But they are only well marketed replacements for words that are ultimately dangerous when used to describe a president; “tactless,” “temperamental,” and “asshole,” come to mind.

Or, think about it this way. Here’s a guy who can’t refrain from pushing around and cursing out his colleagues, he can’t even exhibit that much self control and professionalism. What’s going to happen when he’s in talks with someone with whom he disagrees from another country? What’s going to happen when the fate of peace rests on John McCain’s ability to govern his own actions?

I really don’t want to have to live through those answers.

Lots more at Memeorandum: Hot Air (Ed produces a statement from a McCain aide. Of course, who wouldn’t expect an aide to go to bat for his boss?), TownHall Blog, The Moderate Voice, Jonathan Martin’s Blogs, The American Conservative, The Caucus, AMERICAblog, DownWithTyranny!, The Corner, Ed, Redstate, The Carpetbagger Report, The Seminal, The Swamp, Shakesville (brings up a good point, do we really want someone that will make Bush look GOOD on diplomacy?),, Althouse, Pam’s House Blend, Booman Tribune, JammieWearingFool and Macsmind

(edited by DrGail)

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