John McCain made a quick stop at the Capitol one day last spring to sit in on Senate negotiations on the big immigration bill, and John Cornyn was not pleased.
Cornyn, a mild-mannered Texas Republican, saw a loophole in the bill that he thought would allow felons to pursue a path to citizenship.
McCain called Cornyn's claim "chicken-s---," according to people familiar with the meeting, and charged that the Texan was looking for an excuse to scuttle the bill. Cornyn grimly told McCain he had a lot of nerve to suddenly show up and inject himself into the sensitive negotiations.
"F--- you," McCain told Cornyn, in front of about 40 witnesses.
It was another instance of the Republican presidential candidate losing his temper, another instance in which, as POW-MIA activist Carol Hrdlicka put it, "It's his way or no way."
There's a lengthy list of similar outbursts through the years: McCain pushing a woman in a wheelchair, trying to get an Arizona Republican aide fired from three different jobs, berating a young GOP activist on the night of his own 1986 Senate election and many more.
McCain observers say the incidents have been blown out of proportion.
Read the whole article for a long, shocking list of incidents, most of which I'd never heard about before. He's a mean bastard. Here's one:
In 1992, McCain sparred with Dolores Alfond, the chairwoman of the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America's Missing Servicemen and Women, at a Senate hearing. McCain's prosecutorlike questioning of Alfond - available on YouTube[above] - left her in tears.
Four years later, at her group's Washington conference, about 25 members went to a Senate office building, hoping to meet with McCain. As they stood in the hall, McCain and an aide walked by.
Six people present have written statements describing what they saw. According to the accounts, McCain waved his hand to shoo away Jeannette Jenkins, whose cousin was last seen in South Vietnam in 1970, causing her to hit a wall.
As McCain continued walking, Jane Duke Gaylor, the mother of another missing serviceman, approached the senator. Gaylor, in a wheelchair equipped with portable oxygen, stretched her arms toward McCain.
"McCain stopped, glared at her, raised his left arm ready to strike her, composed himself and pushed the wheelchair away from him," according to Eleanor Apodaca, the sister of an Air Force captain missing since 1967.
Yikes. That seems to me to be a perfect thing to highlight in a chain email. This guy is not in control.
Now, hard core conservatives actually like this behavior. They think it means that McCain will kick some enemy ass, whether wives or Democrats or Russians or terrorists or any of the others on their long line of hated adversaries. But the non-political swing voters out there, particularly women, might just think twice if they knew this about him. And I don't think they do.
Unfortunately, we have a little problem:
"Yeah, he has a temper," said Democratic vice presidential nominee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden of Delaware. "It's obvious. You've seen it.
"But is John whatever his opposition painted him to be, this unstable guy who came out of a prisoner of war camp not capable of (acting rationally)? I don't buy that at all."
Somebody needs to tell Joe that he can kiss and make up after the election, but that all these personal testimonials for the guy who is running on his superior character aren't helpful to get that done.
And in any case, being president requires control:
"Diplomacy is not often dealing with reasonable people," said Steve Clemons, an analyst at the New America Foundation, a centrist public policy group.
"In the nuclear age, you don't want someone flying off the handle, so it's a critical question: Can McCain control his temper?" asked Thomas De Luca, professor of political science at Fordham University in New York.
This is where Obama's "coolness" becomes an attractive characteristic. I think most people really do want someone with an eve, rational temperament to run the most powerful country in the world. And even the most hot tempered of presidents never nearly punched a disabled woman in a wheelchair or called his own wife a cunt in front of reporters.
History is an inexact guide, because little evidence is available tying temper to action.
Smith, the historian, has found that according to Tobias Lear, George Washington's secretary, "few sounds on earth could compare with that of George Washington swearing a blue streak."
On the other hand, Smith said, Washington could control himself. "One reason George Washington is this cold-blooded marble figure is that he became expert in controlling his temper," he said.
Other presidents have similar histories. Thomas Jefferson, Smith said, could be a "red-faced chief executive throwing his hat on the floor before stomping on it."
Truman had his angry letters, and one that got out showed quite a temper.
"It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful," Truman wrote Washington Post music critic Paul Hume in 1950, after Hume had panned first daughter Margaret Truman's singing performance.
Added the angry father, "Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes and perhaps a supporter below!"
Bill Clinton's infamous red-faced tirades tended to be endured by staffers in the privacy of the White House rather than public displays.
The important question, Dallek said, is whether and how McCain controls his outbursts. Though his aides insist that his temper is simply a way of expressing passion - and that he sometimes uses it for effect - some observers remain concerned.
"It seems the only way to deal with John McCain is to think the way he does," said Hinz, the former Arizona GOP official who now runs an insurance reform advocacy group in Phoenix. "If he gets more power, what's going to make him suddenly become a fuzzy, nice guy?"
Nothing. He's obviously always been an uncontrolled, undisciplined personality with a mean streak a mile long that goes far beyond the normal boundaries of political --- hell, any boundries -- of proper behavior. It's not just blowing off steam or venting like the incidents described above with Washington or Clinton and neither is it done for political effect as it almost certainly was with Truman. This is real and it's apparently uncontrolled and that's a very big worry.
At this point we have to hope he doesn't sit down and talk to our enemies if he becomes president because he will in all likelihood start World War Three.
Look, the McCain campaign want to run this entire race on the issue of character -- specifically his character. I say, bring it. His temperament is unstable and his behavior is erratic. This man is entirely unsuited to a position of great power and people need to know that. And once you know it, you look at him and see that it's absolutely true. His anger and arrogance are written all over his face.
The mainstream media know all about this, of course, and have protected him all these years because they are immature fanboy twits who think McCain's antics are awesomely manly acts of awesome manliness. But the mainstream media aren't responsible for nearly 15% of the country believing Obama is a muslim, but the word got out anyway.
Copy and paste this article and send it to everyone you know. Include the Youtube url so they can see him snarl. Some people may like it, true. But regardless, it puts a dent in his heroic character theme. All American heroes don't shove ladies in wheelchairs no matter how mad they get. They just don't.