Wednesday, June 04, 2008

On McCain's temper

Now that the stage is set for a general election, I thought it might be relevant, in case you missed it, to link to the WaPo story a couple of months ago that discussed John McCain's well-known problem with anger management. The incidents described don'e strike me as all that terrible, most of them. We know from McCain's his books and Matt Welch's excellent "McCain: The Myth of a Maverick," that McCain has had a temper since early childhood. He was more a screw-up than a model student at Annapolis and was constantly getting into fights well into adulthood.

The story about unloading on a poor young volunteer early in his political career for setting up a podium that emphasized McCain's relatively short stature is pretty despicable. The Post story opens with him almost coming to fisticuffs with Iowa Sen. Grassley -- but he didn't, and it was back in 1992. He's pushed and shoved a few senators, but the Post writer couldn't find evidence of him actually slugging anybody recently.

At the Register we saw an example of the famed McCain temper during an editorial board over a question asked by John Seiler that I can't even remember. He got red in the face and it sure looked as if he were fighting a strong impulse to pop somebody. Welch says McCain is most likely to blow up when he perceives a challenge to his personal integrity or honor, especially if there's more than a grain of truth in the challenge, and while I still don't remember the precise question, I have a strong impression our incident fit into that category.

I have only that smattering of first-hand knowledge so I don't know whether former NH GOP Sen. Bob Smith's comment is justified, to wit: "His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him." There hasn't been a recent reported incident, but that might even mean that if he's consciously repressing his temper he could be even more tightly wound. Or maybe at the age of 71 he's begun to grow out of adolescence. Anyway, it's worth thinking about.

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