Temper Temper

Coming on the heels of a story where John McCain uses perhaps one of the most inappropriate obscenities in the English language on his own wife is another story where the Maverick actually gets in a fist fight with a fellow congressman.

These stories are all filtering out from the new biography, The Real McCain, which is already painting a less than admirable image of the Republican presidential nominee.  In this episode McCain is at a meeting with two junior congressmen also in attendance.  He repeatedly referred to them as, “boy,” which apparently upset Rick Renzi a great deal.

Finally, Renzi told McCain to stop calling him that or else Renzi was going to kick his ass.  At which point McCain started throwing punches.

Certainly these acts alone are bad enough.  Even for someone as lax and prone to uttering profanities as I, dropping a C-bomb is unheard of.  I can’t do it; the word alone gives me chills.  As for fist fighting, this is not the behavior of reasonable adults.  Last fist fight I was in was in the third grade.

But what is more important is that these are not the acts of an elder statesman.  This is not the temperament that we would want to display to the world.  A man who can’t control his temper is not the man you want to have control over the armed forces.  A man who can’t control his temper is not someone you want to be part of delicate and nuanced talks with foreign leaders that could end in disaster.

This understanding requires a divorce from the romanticized hero worship that we as Americans tend to hold.  Because such traits make great movies, we assume that being tough as nails, and willing to end arguments with a fist are actual virtues as opposed to liabilities.  In the two hour space of a movie, all that matters is whether the job gets done or not, and not the heaps of carnage left in the hero’s wake.

The problem is that leading the nation goes beyond a two hour movie.  After the bad guy has been taken out and all the good lines have been delivered, someone has to go through and clean up the smoldering wreckage and broken bodies.  In Hollywood, that’s when you run the credits, in real life, that’s when the real work begins.

That’s not to say that McCain is trying to run as the Last Action Hero, but that American values are twisted by this kind of romanticism of the kind of persona McCain embodies.  While McCain’s temperament will undoubtedly serve as a liability should he gain the Oval Office, far too many would give him a pass because they might believe that this kind of tough talkin’ Maverick is exactly what America needs.

But we should have learned this lesson already.  This is what Bush was; the plain spoken tough talker who got the job done.  He didn’t actually get the job done; Osama bin Laden is still free, and the threat of terrorism around the globe has only increased.  Also, the economy is taking a nose dive.  But he got Saddam Hussein, he sure did do that.

The only problem is, the credits didn’t roll once Saddam was found in his spider hole.  Nor did they roll at his trial, or even at his execution.  Real life just kept on running, and this administration continues to appear unable to cope with that.

The moral to this story is simple.  Calling his wife a c*** is not virtuous; it’s misogyny.  Attempting to beat a congressman to a pulp with his fists is not cool, or tough, or anything to be admired; it’s a childish disgrace.

Between the concept of the action hero president, and a real president, McCain is the former.  But we’ve already had an action hero president, and he was a complete failure.

More from memeorandumNY Daily News, Crooks and Liars, New York Times, The Politico, MotherJones.com, The Campaign Spot, DownWithTyranny!, Booman Tribune, The Raw Story, Brilliant at Breakfast, Wonkette, Cliff Schecter …, Open Left and Macsmind

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