As the Democrats prepare to go the distance, with the protracted battle for their party’s nomination not likely to be resolved for many months, their drama is the page-one political campaign news story these days. Most of the stuff about John McCain is on page-two.
Except for that TEMPER thing.
Senator McCain’s propensity for volatility is a persistent albatross around his neck, as Rev. Wright’s rants SHOULD be to Senator Obama.
Just this past week, the GOP standard-bearer-to-be addressed this issue yet again; dismissing speculation that his mercurial tendencies may “hinder his ability to serve as President of the United States.” McCain, in fact, considers his temper a “minor thing” – especially when compared to the totality of his life and record.
His strategy seems to be to turn a lemon into lemonade by suggesting that there may very well be a role for anger in a McCain administration. He thinks people might even want it that way. He told one interviewer: “When I see corruption in Washington, when I see wasting needlessly of their tax dollars, when I see people behaving badly – they expect me to get angry, and I will get angry.”
That’s pretty novel – a campaign promise to get mad – sort of a “read my lips, but be prepared to delete the expletive.”
The fact is that we have a long history in this country of electing leaders who have a capacity for anger. And John McCain may have more in common with past Presidents than the other would-be occupants of the White House this year.
It’s up to Americans to figure out whether or not that’s a good thing.
Lyndon Johnson’s temper was so much a part of his persona that he was considered by his devoted aide Bill Moyers to be a “tormented man.” He said that the tall Texan “would just go within himself, just disappear – morose, self-pitying, angry.” And the late journalist Hugh Sidey once said of LBJ that “there was an increasing worry about the President around town - a fear that his personal eccentricities were affecting policy.”
Some who worked closely around Ronald Reagan, the classic presidential Mr. Nice Guy, have told me that he had quite a temper. He just managed to keep it out of public view most of the time.
Of course, Richard Nixon’s anger-laced musings were captured on the infamous tapes. But his temper was well known by that time. The anger didn’t surprise most Americans; the language did.
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