After the past two days, I intended something light and fun to take us into the weekend, but a number of commenters raised an important point that I have not directly addressed in this discussion of Senator McCain and age: judgment.
Assessing judgment is a tougher call than health, policy positions and factual mistakes because it is more subjective, bringing together in our minds all the speeches, interviews, reactions to events and overall demeanor we have seen in candidates.
So this post is entirely subjective and I’m curious about your own subjective responses to Senator McCain after 19 months of intense campaigning on which to base them.
Throughout the campaign, there has been a continuing undercurrent of mean-spiritedness from McCain that is worrisome. He is frequently testy when asked a question he doesn’t like. For years, the press gave the senator a pass, rarely questioning him closely about his positions and contradictions.
Recently the press, who you and I must rely on to report the facts and ask the hard questions for us, has stepped up their criticism of McCain whose response has been to issue blistering condemnations of the press, cancel a scheduled interview with Larry King, and there is that peculiarly snarly interview with Time magazine.
This goes along with the growing number of reports about McCain’s temper from people who have known and worked with him over the years – that he flies off the handle easily and viciously. Not the temperament I want in a president who must deal with a world more volatile than it may ever have been.
Senator McCain’s response to the tricky Russia/Georgia conflict was one of immediate bellicosity, and it was further disturbing to discover that one of his paid top campaign aides is, simultaneously, a paid lobbyist for Georgia leaving me wondering whose interests he supports in his campaign advisory position, that of Georgia or the U.S. That's not the kind of judgment I want to see perpetuated in Washington.
Finally, there is the choice of an unsuitable vice president who, among other questionable positions (banning library books is a big one for me) has zero experience in national and international politics. To defend Governor Palin’s lack of international experience, Senator McCain made this monumentally stupid statement on ABC News a couple of days ago:
GIBSON: But as you know, the questions revolve really around foreign policy experience. Can you honestly say you feel confident having someone who hasn't traveled outside the United States until last year, dealing with an insurgent Russia, with an Iran with nuclear ambitions, with an unstable Pakistan, not to mention the war on terror?
MCCAIN: Sure. And one of the key elements of America's national security requirements are energy. She understands the energy issues better than anybody I know in Washington, D.C., and she understands. Alaska is right next to Russia. She understands that.
Oh, please. How can anyone in the U.S. want a president who asks us to believe that line of thinking or who believes it himself.
There is no way to know if Senator McCain’s general belligerence, vindictiveness and, in my opinion, pandering choice of a running mate totally unprepared to be president should there be the need, is age-related. But combined with his age and the ongoing, overwhelming number of factual mistakes and/or memory lapses, I don’t believe his judgment can be trusted – even if I supported his policies.
What about you?
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Elizabeth Westmark watches with compassion the decline of A Signature Woman.]