The end of the Straight Talk Express?
It seems that McCain is now dodging the press instead of sitting down with them for one of his famous "straight talk" sessions:
Reporters traveling with John McCain are slightly miffed that the senator hasn't had any face time with them in, well, a month and three days (but who's counting?).That's not surprising, given the fact that McCain can't seem to open his mouth without revealing colossal ignorance. In the most recent episode, McCain revealed that he doesn't know where Spain is, and has no idea who its prime minister is:
So, when Straight Talk Air departed Tampa today, a dozen reporters chanted, "Bring Mac back! Bring Mac back!"
The chanting lasted under a minute as staffers in the business cabin smiled and then promptly closed the curtain between business and coach.
That's the level of ignorance I would have expected of Bush, back before he was president. And Bush was thought of as a foreign policy lightweight. Keep in mind, foreign policy is supposed to be the thing that McCain is good at.But it got worse. Here's the follow-up by Jonathan Stein of the leftist magazine Mother Jones:
During an interview in Miami earlier this week with Spanish-language station Union Radio, a reporter asked McCain whether, if elected, he would receive Spanish president Zapatero in the White House. McCain answered, "Honestly, I have to analyze our relationships, situations and priorities, but I can assure you that I will establish closer relationships with our friends, and I will stand up to those who want to harm the United States."
The question about Zapatero came after a series of questions on how McCain sees relations with Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba. He said he would not speak to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez "without any sort of preconditions, as Senator Obama has said he would," and said Chávez was "depriving his people of their democratic rights." He judged Bolivia's Evo Morales as "very similar" and also condemned Cuba's Raúl Castro. When the questioner said, "Now let's talk of Spain" and asked whether he'd invite Zapatero, McCain responded with a vague statement that he would meet "with those leaders who are our friends" and then cited Mexican President Felipe Calderón as an example. The questioner tried several more times to steer the Senator back to a clear answer on Spain, but McCain never directly addressed the nation, saying, "What I would say is that my record is that of someone who has worked in a friendly atmosphere with those who are our friends and faced up to those who aren't."
McCain said in June that Zapatero, the president of Spain, would be welcome at his White House. This bolsters my argument that McCain didn't intend to give Spain the cold shoulder in the Spanish-language radio interview. He simply didn't know what was going on.Right. It's insane that McCain would try to cover his gaffe by pretending that the Spanish government is hostile to the US, and lump them in with the government of Venezuela. But how is it that a leftist magazine like Mother Jones is lumping Spain in with North Korea and Iran? And why aren't they castigating McCain for trying to equate Cuba with Venezuela and Bolivia? For the record, Cuba is a communist dictatorship. Venezuela and Bolivia are democratic countries that are hated by Bush and McCain because they've turned away from the very economic policies that ruined the American economy.
Of course, the McCain campaign had to respond to this situation and they couldn't say, "Our candidate misheard the interviewer or misunderstood what was going on, so let's just forget this little senior moment, shall we?" So they claimed that McCain intentionally refused to sit down with Zapatero, who is a socialist:
"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," the Senator's foreign policy adviser Randy Sheunemann told the Washington Post.
Okay, that's insane. Lumping Spain — a member of NATO and thus a country we are bound to defend militarily in the event of crisis — in with Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea is clearly crazy. And it's a position, apparently, John McCain didn't endorse as recently as June. So we know what's going on here, right? The campaign put out a self-serving, cover-your-ass statement and John McCain is old but not so militaristic he wants to sever ties with one of our oldest allies. Everyone clear?
But the derangement didn't end there. Andrew Sullivan misfired in his attack on McCain. Sullivan ignored the McCain campaign's obvious lie about having misgivings about meeting with the leader of our NATO ally, and he ignored McCain's silly attempt to smear the leaders of Venezuela and Bolivia. Instead, he took a swipe at McCain for referring to Zapatero as president, rather than as prime minister. But even the official site of La Moncloa (Spain's version of the White House) refers to Zapatero as the "Presidente del Gobierno", or "President of the Government". As it turns out, Zapatero functions as a prime minister (king Juan Carlos I is the head of state) but is referred to as president.
I guess the silly season of politics is indeed upon us.
More from the McCain Gaffe Factory here.
(cross posted at appletree)