Friday, September 19, 2008

The McCain-Spain thing

A minor brouhaha -- on the web, at least -- has erupted about an interview that McCain gave to a Spanish-language radio station in Florida. The interviewer, speaking quite heavily accented English, asks a series of questions about Latin America to which McCain gives pretty standard neocon-flavored answers. Then the interviewer switches continents and asks whether McCain would be willing to meet with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, should McCain become president.

I have listened to the interview -- here's a link that can get you to the audio -- and it's clear that McCain did not hear, or did not process, the interviewer's references to Spain and Europe. McCain continued to talk about Latin America, making a specific reference to Mexico and Calderon, and refused to commit to a meeting with Zapatero specifically, clearly because he had no idea that the interviewer was asking about Spain.

Does this mean McCain is senile? No, it means he misheard an interviewer speaking with an accent and was unwilling to ask for clarification. His campaign has worsened the situation by telling the Wash Post that yes indeed, McCain is not willing to commit specifically to meeting with Zapatero. The whole thing is ridiculous. They should just admit he made a mistake and didn't hear the interviewer clearly. If they had done that, it would have been pretty much the end of the story. Now, though, his campaign's on record as saying he won't promise specifically to meet with the head of government of a NATO ally.

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