Thursday, September 18, 2008

McCain's reign is falling in Spain

In an interview with a Spanish-language radio station in Florida yesterday, John McCain seemed unable to identify Prime Minister Zapatero of Spain. In response to the interviewer's attempts to clarify who he was talking about, McCain gave a boilerplate answer about how he will work with friends and confront enemies.

Now, I'm partly willing to give McCain a pass on this one. Perhaps it was a miscommunication because of language differences. Perhaps McCain mixed up Zapatero with the Zapatistas. In fact, I think it's unrealistic to expect the candidates to remember the names of every single foreign leader (although Spain is a pretty important ally). So I'm hesitant to say that this was a big "gotcha" moment. It strikes me as significantly less worrisome and less relevant than, say, Palin's ignorance of the Bush Doctrine.

But here's where McCain doesn't get a pass. He has made his foreign policy experience a central argument in his campaign. Earlier in the very same interview, he tried to draw a contrast with Obama by claiming, "I know the issues and I know the leaders." So McCain should simply be held to the standard that he sets himself. If Obama had made this mistake, McCain would certainly make it Exhibit A in the case against Obama's foreign policy cred.

Incidentally, the same should also hold true for Palin (possibly) getting pregnant before she was married, and McCain committing adultery on his first wife. I don't think these issues are relevant to someone's qualifications to be president. But if the appeal of your own candidacy is based on notions of fidelity, personal integrity, and sexual morality, shouldn't you be held to your own standard?

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