The Brain of McCain Fails Mainly on Spain


So John McCain apparently doesn't realize that Spain is: 1) not in the Americas; 2) fighting alongside us in Afghanistan and is a NATO ally; 3) not our enemy. Here's the backstory:

Per a post on Josh Marshall's site, I just listened to an interview John McCain did with a Spanish journalist recently. The interview is in English, but there's a Spanish translator translating the tape into Spanish at the same time. So the English part is difficult to hear. I am however fluent in Spanish, and what Josh reports is exactly what the Spanish version shows.

Namely, that John McCain didn't appear to know that Spain was in Europe, or that the leader of Spain was named Zapatero, even after he was told that Zapatero was the leader of Spain.

When asked about Spain and Zapatero, by a Spanish reporter for a Spanish newspaper, McCain responded about Mexico and Latin America. A reader suggested something that Josh had already considered, that perhaps McCain thought the reporter was talking about the Zapatistas in Mexico, the guerilla group. But that's not possible as the reporter clearly said she was talking about Spain and Spain's leader, Zapatero. She told McCain this twice. Let me tell you exactly what she asked McCain (per the translation):
"Senator, finally, let's talk about Spain. If you're elected president, would you invite President Zapatero to meet with you in the White House?"

McCain then gives this odd answer about America's friends and America's enemies. He also, oddly, talks about Mexico (why Mexico? The question was about Spain) and how he'd invite friendly leaders to the White House. She then asks him again, would that invitation include President Zapatero? He says again that he'd have to review relations first, blah blah. She then says again, "so you'd have to wait to see, so would you meet with him in the White House?" He again repeats his weird statement about friends and enemies. McCain also throws in, oddly, to the Spanish reporter, when she's asking him about meeting the Spanish president, a line about the importance of our relationship with Latin America (this is now the second time he answered a question about meeting the president of Spain with an answer about Latin America). She then says to McCain one last time:

"Okay, but I'm talking about Europe - the president of Spain, would you meet with him?"

This time, there was no room for confusion. McCain then gives this very bizarre answer:

"I will meet with any leader who has the same principles and philosophy as us in terms of human rights, democracy, and freedom and I will stand up to those who do not."

What does concern about human rights, democracy and freedom have to do with a prerequisite for meeting the president of Spain? Especially when you told the same paper 5 months ago that you'd be happy to meet with him.

McCain had no idea what was going on in the interview. She specifically told him, twice, that she was talking about Spain and the Spanish president. She's a Spanish reporter with one of the largest, if not the largest, newspaper in Spain, El Pais. I know this paper, McCain certainly knows this paper (and it's not like McCain's staff didn't tell him who he had the exclusive interview with for ten minutes). She made it clear she was asking about her own country and her own president and Mccain had no clue what she was talking about.

Either McCain had no idea what the woman was talking about when she said "Spain," and then said "the President of Spain," repeatedly, or McCain intentionally snubbed the country of Spain tonight for no apparent reason, which is very hard to believe, especially given his earlier interview in which he said he was fine meeting Zapatero. The interview is absolutely bizarre, especially in that it sounds like McCain wasn't even lucid, it sounds like he simply doesn't have complete control over his faculties anymore. And judging by the fact that just a few months ago McCain was fine with Zapatero, it sounds like McCain simply wasn't quite all there any more during the interview. He got horribly confused and didn't know what was going on.

Now I could understand, if you're a McCain supporter, being embarrassed by this. They could have played a 'bad connection' card (and he is a POW!). Nope. McCain's surrogates have, instead, decided to embrace the stupidity:

John McCain seemed to diss Spain's leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero--or maybe confuse him with a Latin American leader--in a radio interview the other day. Now Randy Scheunemann, McCain's ninja neocon foreign policy adviser, is saying that McCain meant exactly what he said:

"The questioner asked several times about Senator McCain's willingness to meet Zapatero (and id'd him in the question so there is no doubt Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred). Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with President Zapatero in this interview."

Does that mean Spain's membership in the League of Democracies is on hold? Seems to me that putting a chill in the relationship with one of our NATO allies simply because McCain misheard a question is going a bit far.

The stupidity never ends. Or maybe it's just that all those Mexicanists look alike.

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McCains campaign is plainly pained by Spain
Explain, McCain, dont strain your brain in vain
Complain, McCain, maintain that Spains arcane
Abstain, McCain, refrain from staining Spain!

Its plain, in Spain, McCain has sprained his brain
The bane of his campaign, Spain will remain
His gains will wanethe sane disdain his train
A strain that his campaign cannot contain

(It entertains, I ascertain,
So once again, Ill pop champagne!)

Excelente, cuttlefish!

By stillwaggon (not verified) on 20 Sep 2008 #permalink

Here's the interview without the translater in the background.…

McCain seems not to know what the relationship between Spain and America is, so he (oddly as you say) goes into boiler plate language about latin america and that he'll meet with people who are friendly towards the US (just as soon as his handlers tell who they are). He did sorta seem confused about where Spain was, but its not as obvious as you say, the interviewers accent got in the way. You can clearly hear what happened in the last minute or so:

reporter: But we're talking about Europe (with a silent or at least quiet 'ope') now, would you meet with the president of Spain.
McCain: what about me what?

She tries to correct him, but McCain hears 'you' instead of 'Europe' and it sounds kinda attackish so he goes on the defensive.

So McCain comes off kinda dumb, but politician dumb (shit, I can't remember if we're friends with Spain or not, better stall) not necessarily crazy old man dumb (Spain's down there in Mexico ain't it).

Don't be ridiculous! John McCain knows very well that Spain is just south of the Iraq/Pakistan border.

Spain is the 8th largest world economy, the sixth largest world investor, the first or second investor in Latin America ( depending on the country) and the fourth largest investor in the US ( all according to OCDE statistics). Furthermore, Spain has played a major role in world history and also in US history. It was Spain, not France, the country which provided more material help to the American insurgents against the British ( an independent US reciprocated by appropiating most of the remaining Spanish territory in North American and by declaring an illegal was against Spain over Cuba- remember the Maine?). Spain is also a major contributor to stability operations from Libanon to Afghanistan ( alongside the US) and it has an active diplomacy not only in Europe and Latin America, but also in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Subsaharan Africa. Its language and culture are shared by more than 400 million people around the world.....and a candidate for leading the US does not know where Spain is? Oh dear¡

By Luis Martinez (not verified) on 20 Sep 2008 #permalink

Well, there is one totally bogus point in what you report of the interview: Spain does not have a president.

It does, however, have a Prime minister (said Zapatero), plus a king (Juan Carlos I), who is by himself a very good reason to be a monarchist (he thwarted a Franquist coup d'État in 1981).

By Jérôme ^ (not verified) on 20 Sep 2008 #permalink

Sorry, Jerome, the prime minister of Spain is officially the President of the Government. Not a President of the country, not head of state, but head of government. That's probably why the interviewer used the term.

In many countries, there is a separation between a President as head of state (Ireland for example) and a Prime Minister (or similar) as head of government.

Viva la revolucion!

In all this, nobody seems to report the fact that the reporter asks the question 3 times! What part of McCain's answer does she not understand? He repeats his answer each time but obviously it's not what she wants to hear so she keeps on asking the question. He doesn't want to commit to meeting with Zapatero and the reporter somehow can't accept that answer.

Sorry Clint, that just don't fly.

She repeated the question b/c McCain kept rambling on about Mexico, leaders "throughout the hemisphere," the situation in "Latin America," and so on.

The guy had no idea what she was asking, and he just tried to wing it -- again and again -- rather than asking for clarification.

What's truly pathetic is that the McCain camp is trying to stand by this gaffe rather than simply admitting that he had trouble understanding the interviewer.

By Physicalist (not verified) on 22 Sep 2008 #permalink