Last Tuesday, Sen. John McCain met with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register in a bid to once again obtain the paper’s endorsement. (In December, shortly before the Iowa caucuses, the Register endorsed McCain and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to be the nominees of their respective parties.) As news outlets widely reported, and as you can see for yourself in the video to the right, the interview at times became somewhat contentious.
John McCain is angry.
You can feel it in the clenched muscles in his throat, the narrowing of his eyes, the controlled tone with
which he handles a question he doesn’t like, as if struggling to contain something that might spill out. We’ve seen that body language on TV. But around a Des Moines Register table Tuesday, the anger and tension were palpable. And unsettling.
McCain’s volatility has been written and whispered about by staff and Senate colleagues: the mercurial temper, the quixotic outbursts of reproach, then jocularity. But those alleged episodes were behind the scenes. The combative, prickly McCain we saw was seeking the Register’s endorsement. He already got it in the caucuses.
He took frequent offense at questions, characterizing them as personal viewpoints of the questioners rather than legitimate topics. True, he was asked some tough, pointed questions about his running mate and his honesty. But America is having those discussions, and you’d expect he’d be ready, not defensive. It takes a thick skin to be president. [link]
SAJAforum: Compared to what you describe in your column, what was McCain’s temperament like during his meeting with the Register‘s editorial board last fall, in advance of the caucuses?