Can McCain Control His Temper?
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Monday, January 28, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Election 2008: John McCain claims his temper is not an issue. "I don't think I would have the support of so many of my colleagues if that were the case." Who are these supportive colleagues?
Related Topics: Election 2008
They certainly do not include Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. Over the weekend, he announced he cannot endorse his colleague for the White House and is endorsing Gov. Mitt Romney instead.
"The thought of him being president sends a cold chill down my spine," Cochran said. "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."
Perhaps Cochran can't appreciate the maverick in McCain. But the same can't be said of Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a noted reformer and friend of whistle-blowers. Grassley said in a recent interview that he was so upset by a McCain tirade that he didn't speak to him "for a couple of years." McCain got in his face and shouted an obscenity at him.
(Grassley says they're on friendly terms now and thinks McCain has the qualifications to be president. But he stressed he's not making an endorsement.)
McCain admits he's rubbed some senators the wrong way. But he explains that what they really don't like is his tough stand against farm subsidies and "pork barrel" spending.
If that were the case, we'd say more power to him. But it seems McCain goes ballistic on anyone who disagrees with him. And he's not just verbally abusive, but physically threatening.
He got in the grille of Sen. Richard Shelby — an inch away from the Alabama Republican's face — after Shelby voted against the 1989 nomination of John Tower as defense secretary. "I was madder than hell when I accosted him," McCain admits, half boasting.
"In his world, it's very difficult to have a simple policy disagreement," said American Conservative Union chairman David Keene. "Everything becomes personal. His position is right, and everyone else's is basically evil."
Lest anyone think McCain, now 71, has mellowed, he got in another altercation just last year. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, got full frontal McCain over an immigration bill, according to reports in Roll Call and the Washington Post.
McCain, who supported amnesty for illegals, accused his colleague of making a "chickensh**" argument to try to sink the bill. "F*** you!" McCain shouted at Cornyn during the negotiations. "I know more about this than anyone else in the room."
"Idiot" and "liar" are among his other favorite put-downs. McCain's "finger-in-your-eye" style has alienated even allies on the Hill.
He quips he "didn't win Miss Congeniality." But outside of wielding the gavel of the Senate Commerce Committee, he didn't win any top leadership posts, either, despite 25 years in Congress. In effect, the abrasive lawmaker was marginalized throughout his career.
While good leaders don't always win popularity contests, that's not exactly a vote of confidence for somebody who's now running to lead the free world.
McCain has burned a lot of bridges. If he does not work well with others in the Senate, including among those in his own party, how can he count on bringing them on board his executive agenda? How can he run a Cabinet and bring together international coalitions?
To be sure, there's an upside to anger when dealing with the kind of enemy we now face.
We appreciate that McCain, who was dead right about the surge, is willing to stare down "radical Islamic extremists." We want them to fear our commander in chief. It helps if they believe he's got his finger on the button, so to speak, as the Soviets believed with President Reagan.
Difference is, Reagan didn't have an itchy trigger finger. His recently published diaries confirm that he skillfully used firm diplomacy behind the scenes. We're not so sure McCain can control his bellicosity.
Reagan disarmed Mikhail Gorbachev with his charm. When McCain says he looks Vladimir Putin in the eye and all he sees is "a K, a G and a B," it may not be just a line he uses in debates.
We have our issues with McCain, but none more important than presidential temperament. Is he fit for the highest office in the land?