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Is John McCain Rational Enough To Be President?

While the McCain campaign continues to make shallow personal attacks on Senator Barack Obama that hardly go intellectually much deeper than some suggestion that the senator is young and popular, so don't vote for him, the McCain campaign attempts to ignore the long record of irrational and ballistic behavior by own their candidate -- begging the important question of whether John McCain really has the right temperament to be president.

Simply put, is John McCain rational enough to be president?

While most of the elected members of the House and Senate are lawyers who carefully choose their words when they speak, John McCain instead has used his personal history of physical and psychological abuse as POW in Vietnam as his chief qualification in every election he has run in as his main credentials rather than an education to match his opponents or his peers. Compared to most of his Senate colleagues, McCain's Annapolis Naval Academy education is far less years of higher education than their many more years spent in some law school. Even Barack Obama was a professor of constitutional law besides being a lawyer himself.

McCain's sometimes independent temperament often got him into problems during his education at Annapolis with the higher ranking there. McCain wasn't really a great student there either, according to his class ranking which placed him at 894 out of 899 according to the life biography of McCain over at the Wikipedia website. Wikipedia also notes that McCain was a lightweight boxer who often challenged bullies who picked on the weaker classmates while in school.

But some will argue that pilots in general make for very poor candidates for president. They are too independent minded and won't listen to anyone. George McGovern was one of the youngest bomber pilots during WWII, and his independent nature was even too maverick for many in his own party, and McGovern lost millions of normally reliable Democratic voters to Richard Nixon in the 1972 election in the worst landslide loss for any Democrat ever. One joke after the election was that at least so few people voted for McGovern that he can be able to thank each one personally.

The first George Bush didn't want to hear about all of the criticism about how bad the economy had become under him and largely ignored the huge devastation of a major hurricane and lost re-election in 1992. In 1988, Bush won with 54% of the vote, but only attracted a mere 38% of the vote in 1992. Millions of voters were unhappy with him. And the son of George Bush, the current president, represents another independent minded pilot who didn't want to hear anything contrary to going to war in Iraq, and ignored calls that his war plans weren't working until after a big defeat of his party in the 2006 midterm elections.

Now John McCain is the latest independent minded pilot to want to be president, yet his erratic temperament call into question whether he isn't just yet another major train wreck just waiting to happen.

Back on July 5, 2006, the usually conservative leaning Newsmax.com ran a pretty good piece by writer Ronald Kessler entitled, McCain's Out-Of-Control Anger: Does He Have The Right Temperament To Be President? This is actually a pretty good shopping bag collection of some of the worst moments of John McCain. And Kessler summed up McCain pretty well by stating that: "As portrayed by the mainstream media, McCain is an engaging war hero, a man of political moderation positioned between the right and left. But to insiders who know him, McCain has an irrational, explosive side that make many of them question whether he is fit to serve as president and be commander in chief". This is hardly any ringing endorsement from a fairly conservative news source.

John McCain's episodes of profanity and anger while serving in both the Congress and Senate are legendary, as is his very twisted sort of mean-natured humor. But as writer Kessler pointed out, "most major news outlets aren't interested in pursuing the subject" of what McCain is really like. McCain once joked that Chelsea Clinton "was so ugly"..."because her father was Janet Reno". But actually apologized for this outburst which is rare for McCain. Sometimes McCain would have an outburst and never talk to the person ever again, even other senators within his own party in the Senate, such as Senator Bob Smith. McCain has excused his anger management problems by claiming that he is "angry at issues", but the truth is that he often turns on his own friends and issues aren't really the direction of his anger at all.

McCain has sometimes used the "F" word in the Senate while in a committee against some members of his own party, or even referred to others as "S--theads", etc. The fact of the matter is that other members of the Senate just do not behave the same way as McCain has often done. Some say that McCain lost support among the insiders of his own party in 2000 to Bush because those who knew him thought he was a "vicious guy" and disliked him.

In addition to all of this there's his nasty sense of humor aimed as hurtful humor that jokes of rape, bigotry or prejudice or the fact that that McCain twice attempted suicide as he reported to his doctors in his recently disclosed medical reports. All of this really begs more questions about whether McCain is really mentally fit and rational enough to be president. This is a difficult question that voters need to seriously answer and the McCain Campaign should be more forthcoming with any mental health records as this information is just as important if not more so, than the health records they have so far released.

The U.S. needs a president who seriously weighs when to actually use military power only when necessary and not one who sings a song parody of a Beach Boys song, "Bomb, Bomb Iran" when asked a question about the Iranian nuclear program. The U.S. has the most powerful military and nuclear arsenal in the world. Voters need to be darn sure that the person with their finger on the "red" button has good mental health and anger management. Countries like Iran are always going to do nonsense to anger the U.S., however this cannot be used as some justification to take some bold step from which there is no easy return.

Sticky situations like Vietnam and Iraq are very easy to get into, but famously difficult to exit from. There's no "I'm just kidding" excuse once U.S. troops or even worse, nuclear missiles are sent off to answer something. Kennedy was famous for the nuclear war that he avoided with the Soviet Union over the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. From what we know of John McCain's reasoning, judgment and poor anger management skills, who here could really say that McCain would be able to get the same positive outcome if he had been in the same position as president. No doubt about it, McCain is a very risky choice.

Here are some additional links to some other related stories about all of this: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/05/22/mccain/print.html

Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Rating: 2.4/5 (10 votes cast)

Comments (4)

Kirk Muse:

In a word: No.

We need to give McCain a new name.
Senator McDoofus.

A link to Salon is not much better than a link to HuffPo (although the Salon writer has obviously done some real research on McCain (read some books) as opposed to the pathetic Wiki references)

The CBC link has not worked since yesterday.

Paul, you are a stranger to the carefully considered political polemic. Your post is verbose and poorly focused as it wanders all around the topic until it finds a crumb of topic content, which then gets swept off the page in your rush down another rabbit trail. For example, what do Bush 41 and Andrew contribute to a post on whether McCain is rational enough to be President (whatever that means)? Your attempt to employ the "independent pilot" characteristic as an analogy failed also. I suggest you not only read some history, but include a lot of Hemmingway also.

This post can be reduced to a few points.

1) McCain cusses like a sailor (he is a sailor). You write:

"McCain has sometimes used the "F" word in the Senate while in a committee against some members of his own party, or even referred to others as "S--theads", etc. The fact of the matter is that other members of the Senate just do not behave the same way as McCain has often done."

You don't know if other members act this way or not. You are stating opinions as if they were facts.....what's the word I'm looking for? Oh, demagogue.

2) McCain gets angry (not unique).

3) He won't disclose his mental health records. You have his entire post POW career in the active duty Navy which lasted until 1977 to examine and, since 1978, an uninterrupted public career starting as Senate Navy liaison officer, then Congressman, then Senator and two Presidential campaigns to examine for evidence of any of the paranoid psychological damage you are looking for.

4) You offer three links, (one hasn't worked since you posted yesterday) two of which are to opinion pieces. The practice of supporting your point by linking to opinion pieces is regularly rejected by the editor here in other comment threads.

5) You question McCain's ability and readiness to carefully consider the use of American military power.

You say:

"McCain claims that all of his trauma as a POW had left by 1977, yet the fact that he twice attempted suicide according to the 1500 pages of medical reports from his doctors released to the public so far indicates some history of mental health problems that the McCain Campaign should be upfront about."

That is classic dissembling (my euphemism for lying). He attempted suicide in prison after repeated torture and mental stress of isolation. Did he try it twice? Three times? Robert Timberg says he tried it once. In five years of Hell I can imagine any man doing this. Why should he become the exhibitionist you want him to be and release every single detail about this trauma when you have thirty years of public service to examine and make a decision? You desire to know the existence of, the nature of and the specific details of any psychiatric treatment he is receiving or has received for what reason? That he cusses, gets angry, tells jokes that are in bad taste and has a combative personality? The answer is that you have set up a disgusting straw man argument (albeit amateurishly) so that you, Paul, can take a swing at McCain and knock him down.

Good luck with this line of debate. Run with it. It will cement your reputation here at Wizbang.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

I fixed the cbc link.

Here's another source - the New York Times - reporting on McCain's two suicide attempts.


As a prisoner of war, Mr. McCain told doctors, he had tried to commit suicide twice. But by 1977, he said he had "all but forgotten the traumas of captivity."

So now that there is lots of proof the McCain indeed attempted suicide twice, you guys still can't address to the subject, but attempt to shoot the messenger instead.

"The fact of the matter is that other members of the Senate just do not behave the same way as McCain has often done."

If others did that to the extent McCain does it would be as well known as McCain's indiscretions.... so it must be time to ignore McCain's anger problem and attack the messenger, eh Hugh....

"You are stating opinions as if they were facts.....what's the word I'm looking for? Oh, demagogue."

What a good little troll!

Fact and fact after fact - and now link after link after link, and the trolls from Wizbang can't answer the facts, but put on their childish display of attack the messenger.

Pathetic. Are all conservatives this stupid? lol

No, that isn't fair. All conservatives aren't this stupid. Some are the exact kind of demagogues they complain about.

"That is classic dissembling (my euphemism for lying). He attempted suicide in prison after repeated torture and mental stress of isolation. Did he try it twice? Three times?"

Conservative after conservative rails against Paul in the previous post, challenging the fact that it was two attempts instead of one, and now it doesn't matter? It could be three?

Let me quote from the other thread:

ke_future: "sources for all the allegation and statistics you threw into that post please, paul. these are some very serious charges you are putting forth."

Very serious charges... says ke-future

Peter F. "I know about ONE time, not two. Where's the second, Paul."

Yesterday it matters a lot, but suddenly, according to Hugh, it doesn't matter.... uhm, now that the proof has been offered.

Hugh gets the putz of the day award. Why do you waste your breath posting this crap, Hugh. You look like an idiot - a demagogue gives more thought to words than this.

Bill in Arizona:

Beyond his "mental issues" is also his physical condition. Within the last few weeks he had another skin tag removed and is in constant monitoring since his major facial operation a few years ago that required major reconstructive surgery as some nodes had to be removed due to his advanced form of skin cancer. He has had a prostate operation because of blood in his urine and he also had 6 polyps removed from his colon this past April. He is on meds for his cholesterol and BP and needs sleep meds at times when traveling. (see Mayo clinic report from the info dump this spring)
I want to see what he takes DAILY as a maintenance regimen to offset his physical health issues. I have been told that it is "significant". What is his perceived babbling and incoherence at times could be from medication not advanced age. He needs to come clean with ALL his health records and not limit reporters to a brief "Wheres Waldo" hunt through stacks of medical documents within a confined area and limited time period.


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