John McCain, a man who has presented his campaign as a ‘straight talk express’, once said, “Do I insult anybody or fly off the handle or anything like that? No, I don’t”. McCain has also said (about accusations that he has a hair trigger temper), “For someone to say that McCain became just angry and yelled or raised my voice or — it’s just not true. It’s simply not true.” McCain has further commented on this, “And so, those rumors continue to circulate about – quote – temper. They’re going to have to find some concrete examples of it, and they aren’t there.” John McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, has defended McCain against allegations that he has a serious temper problem. Davis went on the record about this matter, stating, “Everyone has a temper . . . but there has been no evidence of a temper problem here.”
One man who might disagree with McCain and his campaign manager, Davis, is NASA administrator Daniel Goldin; Goldin met with McCain back in 1999 regarding a probe that had crash landed on Mars. A witness who was present at that meeting later recounted that encounter, “McCain went ballistic the moment Goldin walked into McCain’s office.” The observer added, “He was shouting and using profanity, saying he was sick of NASA’s screw-ups. It went on for a few minutes and then he kicked Goldin out of the office.”
This incident was not an isolated incident, it was not a one shot occurrence, many more violent outbursts (some physical) have vexed Mr. McCain’s long and ‘distinguished’ days serving in the U.S. Senate. For example, McCain was in a meeting of a committee investigating Vietnam War prisoners and soldiers missing in action, when he became angry in the meeting and insulted Senator Charles E. Grassley Republican of Iowa, using an expletive to describe the Senator. There was a shouting match and shoving between the two Senators, and Nebraska Democrat Bob Kerry had to step in, and separate the men.
Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Cochran has said he witnessed McCain get physical with a Sandinista during a diplomatic mission the two attended in the fall of ’87. Cochran described the scene as one with a tense atmosphere, and where the U.S. was pressing the Nicaraguan Sandinistas “pretty hard”. At this meeting Cochran observed a physical altercation between McCain and an associate of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Cochran later recounted the incident to a journalist, “McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerilla group here at this end of the table and I don’t know what attracted my attention,” said Cochran. “But I saw some kind of quick movement at the bottom of the table and I looked down there and John had reached over and grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever. I don’t know what he was telling him but I thought, good grief, everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission. I don’t know what had happened to provoke John but he obviously got mad at the guy and he just reached over there and snatched him.”
Nearly anyone familiar, to the slightest degree, with John McCain’s temper knows about an incident that occurred between McCain and two Phoenix area doctors. The environmentalist physicians simply went to McCain’s office to discuss a planned University of Arizona project to install telescopes in a region that contained 18 different endangered plants and animal species. The doctors say no sooner did they start to address the issue, then McCain blew up, and acted out of control. They say they observed Senator McCain, slam his fists on his desk, scatter papers all across the room, scream obscenities at them (for at least ten minutes), and shake his fists at them as if he were going to slug one of them. One of the doctors was so rattled by the incident, he commented afterward, “McCain’s the most likely senator to start a nuclear war.”
This hadn’t been the first time someone had contested whether or not John McCain had the mental make-up to take on the responsibilities of the role of commander in chief. McCain had disturbed quite a few of his fellow politicians to the point of where they openly stated, that McCain was not a man who should ever take on that critical role. One such leader was fellow Arizona Senator Dennis DeConcini (a Democrat) who said about John McCain; that he wouldn’t support him for president “under any circumstances”, based upon concerns about his mental health. According to DeConcini, “McCain’s problem was that, if he didn’t get his way, he’d go through the roof.” DeConcini further elaborated about this, “I witnessed it. It’s something that McCain has got to live with and tries to deal with.” On the other side of the aisle, Senator Thad Cochran, made an unfortunate (he is a Republican) headline catching statement about his colleague John McCain, “The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine.”
In 1999 the Arizona Republic editorialized, “If McCain is truly a serious contender for the presidency, it is time the rest of the nation learned about the John McCain we know in Arizona. There is also reason to seriously question whether he has the temperament, and the political approach and skills, we want in the next president of the United States.” In the year 2000 McCain said, while embroiled in an argument with New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici, “Only an a—— would put together a budget like this.” The Republican Domenici later reacted to that incident, “I decided I didn’t want this guy anywhere near a trigger.” Former Rep. John LeBoutillier Republican from NY, has observed about McCain, “People who disagree with him get the (expletive). I think he is mentally unstable and not fit to be president.” Former Democratic Mayor of Phoenix, Paul Johnson, has said about his dealings with John McCain, “His volatility borders in the area of being unstable,” Johnson went on, “Before I let this guy put his finger on the button, I would have to give considerable pause.”
Stephen Wayne, a political scientist at Georgetown University, who studies personalities of presidential candidates, says that McCain’s temperament is a real concern, “The anger is there.” Wayne went on to clarify his position, if McCain is going to be the one answering the 3 a.m. phone, “you worry about an initial emotive, less rational response.” And is it is that emotional, less rational response that should worry the American voters, come this November. They, the American voters, will have to make a critical decision, as to whether or not they want someone such as Mr. McCain to answer that 3 a.m. phone call. If the American people weigh all their options; and still decide to put the alter ego Mr. McCain in position to press that proverbial nuclear button, well then, may God’s grace be upon them for the unfortunate days that lie ahead.