McCain: Not ready to lead

i-c850049b9462fd55c0f314cea6145043-Zapata.jpgTalking Points Memo:

yesterday John McCain was interviewed on the Florida affiliate of Spanish radio network Union Radio. And in the interview McCain appeared not to know who the Prime Minister of Spain was and assumed he was some anti-American leftist leader from South America.

After the interviewer presses him a couple times on the point and tries to focus him on the fact that Prime Minister Zapatero isn’t from Mexico and isn’t a drug lord either McCain comes back at her saying, “All I can tell you is that I have a clear record of working with leaders in the Hemisphere that are friends with us and standing up to those who are not. And that’s judged on the basis of the importance of our relationship with Latin America and the entire region.”

Then there’s a moment of awkward pause before she says. “But what about Europe? I’m talking about the President of Spain.”

McCain: “What about me, what?

Interviewer: “Are you willing to meet with him if you’re elected president?”

McCain: “I am wiling to meet with any leader who is dedicated to the same principles and philosophy that we are for humans rights, democracy and freedom. And I will stand up to those who do not.”

At this point, the interviewer gets tongue-tied presumably because she can’t get over McCain not knowing what Spain is.

I can only assume that John McCain, asked about Prime Minister José Luis Rodíguez Zapatero, thought the question was about Mexican Revolutionary General Emiliano Zapata, (1879-1919). Zapata was an ally of Pancho Villa, and later fell in with anarchists, and was killed in an ambush by his former allies. McCain may well remember tales of these events from his childhood.

The Zapatistas in southern Mexico (Chiapas) adopted his name and ideas.

On the other hand, McCain may have been thinking of Lyle Zapato, the author of Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie: Practical Mind Control Protection for Paranoids.

In either event, McCain has no reason to place Spain in Latin America, nor to doubt the Spanish dedication to “humans rights, democracy and freedom.” They, at least, don’t torture people in Latin American prisons. Can we say the same thing about George Bush and John McCain?

Comments

  1. #1 oku
    September 18, 2008

    “But what about Europe? I’m talking about the President of Spain.”
    McCain: “What about me, what?

    This looks like he understood “But what about you“. ‘you’ instead ‘of ‘Europe’.

    Anyway, one would assume that a candidate for office knows at least the leaders of NATO members and EU states.

  2. #2 SimonG
    September 18, 2008

    Come on now, be fair. It’s hardly surprising if an esteemed leader of his mature years is a little deaf.

  3. #3 Sam C
    September 18, 2008

    Spain, in Yurrp?

    McCain probably thinks its full name is Hispain, because that’s where the Hispanics originally come from.

    It shouldn’t bother McCain if he applies the standard Amurrican “furrn” policy, that one furriner is as bad as any other furriner, which is why it made good sense to your folk to kill thousands in Iraq in retaliation for a bunch of Saudis blowing up the World Trade Center.

    Beats me why McCain’s considered a hero for joining in an earlier genocidal war furthering the USA’s policy of global destruction, dropping bombs on poor people who had never raised a finger against him or his kinfolk from the relative safety of a plane. Now he shows that he’s not only a murderous bastard, but an ignorant one too.

  4. #4 Javier Santistevan
    September 18, 2008

    While the Spanish government may not torture people in Latin American prisons, it is accused of torturing Basque prisoners in Spanish prisons in an attempt to suppress Basque nationalism. The United Nations Human Rights Council is investigating it. Therefore, maybe there is reason to question Spain’s dedication to “human rights, democracy, and freedom.”

    http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CAT.C.CR.29.3.En?OpenDocument

  5. #5 Ken Bley
    September 18, 2008

    Since McCain went on to talk about Mexico, it is reasonable to infer (and I personally would be money) that McCain confused Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, who is alive, with the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, who died in 1919.

    It is less clear whether McCain was recalling personally meeting the historical figure himself, or viewing the Zapata played by Marlon Brando in the 1952 film, “Viva Zapata!”

  6. #6 Javier Santistevan
    September 18, 2008

    While the Spanish government may not torture people in Latin American prisons, it is accused of torturing Basque prisoners in Spanish prisons in an attempt to suppress Basque nationalism. The United Nations Human Rights Council is investigating it. Therefore, maybe there is reason to question Spain’s dedication to “human rights, democracy, and freedom.”

    http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CAT.C.CR.29.3.En?OpenDocument

  7. #7 Josh Rosenau
    September 18, 2008

    OKU: “one would assume that a candidate for office knows at least the leaders of NATO members and EU states.”

    One would assume that, but it seems that assumption was unjustified.

    Javier: Good point about the Basques. Alas, not what McCain seems to have been talking about.

  8. #8 Marge
    September 18, 2008

    I doubt that McCain confused Zapatero with Zapata. That would assume some knowledge of history. I think it just sounded like a Mexican name.

  9. #9 Josh Rosenau
    September 18, 2008

    McCain’s memory of the distant past is much better than his grasp of recent events. He has no problem remembering Czechoslovakia, but can’t seem to grasp the existence of the Czech Republic. Similarly, he may be remembering Viva Zapata! and other accounts of Zapata’s life from McCain’s youth and middle age, but unable to remember the current Prime Minister of Spain.

    Degenerative brain illnesses like Alzheimer’s work in that manner.

  10. #10 natural cynic
    September 18, 2008

    Hmmmm, Spain. Hard of hearing and forgetful. Maybe someone should have reminded McCain that [shouting] “Generalissimo Franco is still dead”

  11. #11 Ian
    September 19, 2008

    If you listen to that bit of the tape, it does sound like “what about you?” What McCain understands there isn’t the big issue. It’s already clear at that point that he has already shown that he has no idea who Zapatero is, that his comments about “Latin America” and “Hemisphere” were just a bs answer, much like Palin’s response to Charlie Gibson on the Bush Doctrine.

    The problem is that, when he clearly doesn’t understand what the interviewer is talking about, he doesn’t stop her and say so. Of course the responses from his advisors today only made matters worse. But fundamentally, it’s a failure to say “sorry, I didn’t catch that”. We don’t need another President who can’t admit that he made a mistake.

  12. #12 wrpd
    September 19, 2008

    This reminds me of an old Dan Quayle joke. He was planning a trip to Latin America and he remarked that he should have studied Latin in high school.
    I can’t wait to see how the McCain campaign tries to put lipstick on this pig.

  13. #13 Martijn
    September 19, 2008

    I’m a European and a news junkie and I don’t know most EU leaders. There’s just too many of them. Besides, the interviewer makes a mistake too:

    “But what about Europe? I’m talking about the President of Spain.”

    Spain is of course a monarchy and does not have a president.

    It’s not that I’m a McCain-fan – after all Europe is in some ways the biggest Blue State – but this is not important. His lack of economic knowledge is.

  14. #14 eric
    September 19, 2008

    Spain is of course a monarchy and does not have a president.

    Zapatero’s official title is President of the Government.