John McCain’s liberal aberrations are being exhibited as evidence he shouldn’t govern this country. But, what about his most-disturbing impediment — an inability to govern himself?
His two crowning virtues from the perspective of conservatives are an unquestioned commitment to continue the war with radical Islamists and a recent pledge to fight for strict-constructionist judges on the Supreme Court.
If everything else goes haywire in a McCain administration, and President McCain remains faithful to those two overriding commitments, this country will still survive.
If those two historic struggles are lost, then all is lost, and the United States will be in dire risk of subsiding into the mire of a second-class nation or worse. That’s what will almost certainly happen if either Barack Hussein Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes president.
The only question, then, that truly matters is whether McCain is capable of waging those two wars — which is what they are — at the same time.
If he is capable, then conservatives have no option, like it or not, than to support him, not merely to vote for him.
So, what is it that could keep McCain from effectively waging those two wars?
This is where American media, from Rush Limbaugh to the Daily Kos, and everything in between, have been derelict in looking under McCain’s sheets. They should be examining whether he’s a prisoner of his own hair-trigger temper, to the extent he blows up and loses his rationality under critical stress.
In short, is he now stable enough to command something larger than the Navy’s biggest airplane squadron during the Vietnam War?
Within political circles, there have always been snide rumors about McCain’s having a legendary hot button. Not everyone who worked with him, or on the other side of the aisle in Congress, always enjoyed crossing him on a bad day.
Dating back to McCain’s failed attempt to defeat George W. Bush in the 2000 Republican presidential primaries, there were visible signs, scantily covered by a sycophantic left-wing press, of his quick temper. No one made a big deal of it at the time, or since.
Whatever demons may have haunted McCain then have not gone away. Recently, in a memorable moment during the Republican “debate” televised on CNN from the Reagan Museum, they thrust their hostile heads into the open.
It occurred when McCain and Mitt Romney were disputing what Romney had said, or meant, in an earlier interview about whether the United States should have a timetable for leaving Iraq. The issue was almost irrelevant, for everyone knew that Romney was then, as he had been all along, dead-set against giving the enemy advance notice of when U.S. forces would be out of Iraq.
Instead, an issue of greater consequence was unfolding before TV-viewers’ eyes. Romney was strongly yet calmly defending himself against McCain’s agitated assertions. As Romney bore down, something manifestly unpleasant came over McCain. It was painfully embarrassing to behold.
His face went crimson. His mouth twisted from smirk to sneer to snarl. His eyes flashed side to side. His head rolled. His shoulders hunched. His fists clinched. His whole countenance was tortured. When he managed to speak again, he was close to incoherent.
Obviously struggling within, McCain regained his grip, but the remainder of his discourse was disjointed. Here was a man demonstrably not altogether in control of himself, an un-pretty picture of insecurity and instability.
If the press had seen all that — how could they not have? — they never let on. There were a few fleeting comments about how things got “a little testy” at the debate, but no serious inquiry as to what the hell was going on there.
Anyone who has worked inside the pinnacle of power, in academia, in corporate enterprise, in government, heck, in the mass media, knows what happens if the top executive lets something get to him and responds in near-ungovernable anger. Everything within hearing distance skids to a screeching halt. Awkward silences ensue. Honest-to-goodness fear takes over. No one dares offer an idea, let alone a possible solution of the precipitating problem.
Next, a domino effect kicks in. Right down the organizational ladder cascades a torrent of icy water. Rationality flies out the window. Initiative takes a holiday. No one wants to be in the neighborhood. A good while passes before anything approaching normality finds its way back. Damage done is impossible to assess.
Insecurity and instability manifesting in angry outbursts are exactly what you don’t want in your work boss, and they are dangerous attributes you dare not have in the commander-in-chief of your nation in a nuclear-armed world.
Friends of McCain insist he is a man of steadfast honor and values. Those are the very qualities, so vital in a president, that corrosive outbursts of temper can erode, even nullify. Can he convince America he has overcome this weakness?
A crucial wedge appears missing from McCain’s pie: a sober tranquility that characterizes those who take time to think through the most-frustrating, most-vexatious, most-potentially destructive provocations that come along.
Nowhere on Earth do more such destructive provocations come knocking than at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This is where, in its most-pronounced form, the fundamental difference between legislator and chief executive comes into play.
A senator can duck and dodge most scalding issues that arise, embracing those few that offer favorable publicity. A governor, a CEO, and, many times over, a president does not have such luxury. Most of the easy issues and those that shower reward get handled by eager underlings. The hottest of the hot potatoes find their way, inexorably, to their desk. Those porcupines don’t amble off. They must be grasped and dealt with gingerly. No lurching allowed.
America finds itself today on a precarious planet. The sculpted rug in the Oval Office is no place to roll the dice on whether its occupant is a hothead who may not be up to what’s up.
The press should be exploring that, rather than opinion polls and celebrity suck-ups. It’s seven months to the GOP convention, nine to Election Day. What are the odds John McCain won’t blow a fuse again by then – or after?
John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for NewsMax.com.
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