"¿Deaf, senile, or insane?" is the subtext of a huge number of posts in Left Blogopolis today after John McCain inscrutably declared that he wouldn't meet with Spanish president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as president during an interview yesterday. Credit is due to Josh Marshall for forcing the American media to pay attention to this: it's since appeared all over, even making Drudge.
For its part, the McCain camp has chosen to go with "insane" as its official explanation for the gaffe:
McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Sheunemann said McCain's answer was intentional.Spain, of course, is a long-time American ally, a fellow member of NATO, and a charter alumnae of the Coalition of the Willing™ (2002-2004).
"The questioner asked several times about Senator McCain's willingness to meet Zapatero (and id'd him in the question so there is no doubt Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred). Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with President Zapatero in this interview," he said in an e-mail.
It's clear to see why they went with "insane" over anything that might signify "old," but this is genuinely nuts. Benen and Hilzoy each have good posts explaining why. Here's Benen:
Let's also not lose sight of the broader pattern. McCain thinks the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia was "the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War." He thinks Iraq and Pakistan share a border. He believes Czechoslovakia is still a country. He's been confused about the difference between Sudan and Somalia. He's been confused about whether he wants more U.S. troops in Afghanistan, more NATO troops in Afghanistan, or both. He's been confused about how many U.S. troops are in Iraq. He's been confused about whether the U.S. can maintain a long-term presence in Iraq. He's been confused about Iran's relationship with al Qaeda. He's been confused about the difference between Sunni and Shi'ia. McCain, following a recent trip to Germany, even referred to "President Putin of Germany." All of this incoherence on his signature issue.McCain's actually lucky if people will stick to talking about his cluelessness on economics today.