Des Moines Register’s Rekha Basu: Is McCain too thin-skinned for presidency?




As Joe has pointed out before, the Des Moines Register endorsed McCain in the primaries. He was on friendly turf. And he still flipped out.

Des Moines Reigster columnist:

John McCain is angry.

You can feel it in the clenched muscles in his throat, the narrowing of his eyes, the controlled tone with which he handles a question he doesn’t like, as if struggling to contain something that might spill out. We’ve seen that body language on TV. But around a Des Moines Register table Tuesday, the anger and tension were palpable. And unsettling.

McCain’s volatility has been written and whispered about by staff and Senate colleagues: the mercurial temper, the quixotic outbursts of reproach, then jocularity. But those alleged episodes were behind the scenes. The combative, prickly McCain we saw was seeking the Register’s endorsement. He already got it in the caucuses.

He took frequent offense at questions, characterizing them as personal viewpoints of the questioners rather than legitimate topics. True, he was asked some tough, pointed questions about his running mate and his honesty. But America is having those discussions, and you’d expect he’d be ready, not defensive. It takes a thick skin to be president.

McCain says he is angry because “people are angry.” But his behavior suggests it’s more than that. Maybe it’s because his poll numbers are falling, his running mate is being ridiculed and his attempt to play fixer on the bailout failed to launch. Or maybe, a more worrisome prospect, this is the real McCain – who can’t deal with stressful situations without feeling attacked, who lashes out when he feels threatened….

Newspapers regularly put candidates in the hot seat. Some playfully disarm the questioner. Some deflect the question. The confident relish the chance to make their case.

McCain seemed put out.

The presidency requires a special temperament. It demands statesmanship with foreign leaders, persuasiveness with Congress and calm assuredness with the public. If McCain is so flustered in an editorial meeting, how would he guide a nation in crisis?

McCain is a warrior. When confronted with a problem, or a crisis, he declares war. It’s in his nature. And it is extremely unsettling. Unless of course you want four more years of war with Iran, Syria, North Korea and everyone else who looks at John McCain the wrong way. At some point, the presidency – America – has to be about more than simply declaring war as a solution to every problem.


CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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