Thursday, April 03, 2008

Harkin: McCain's Temper May Lead To Order Given In Anger

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says he's seen the John McCain temper up close -- and it's scary, a sort of "flying-off-the-handle" response that may be dangerous in the character of someone who wants to be the most powerful man in the world.

McCain, a U.S. senator from Arizona and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, discussed his own temper earlier this week. Iowa Independent asked Harkin about it this morning during a conference call with other media.

“I’ve been on the receiving end of it,” Harkin said. “And yes, I’ve seen it, and yes, everyone here knows about it.”

When asked if McCain's reported eruptions should be considered disqualifying for a president, Harkin said, “Well, it can be scary."

Harkin said McCain is known for “flying off the handle.” Harkin didn't elaborate on specific instances when asked.

“These are the kinds of things that could cause problems,” Harkin said. “An order given in anger might not be corrected.”

Harkin, who was quick to point out that he would never question McCain's patriotism or devotion to nation, said the Arizona Republican's blend of temper and views on the Vietnam war are both revealing and troubling.

“Anybody to this day who believes we could have ‘won’ the Vietnam War by just killing a few more Vietnamese, that’s kind of scary if that’s the kind of mindset someone has whose running for the presidency,” Harkin said. “What does that say about Iraq and other countries? All we’ve got to do is just bomb them back to the Stone Age and we’ll win.”

In a speech on Iraq at the Council on Foreign Relations on Nov. 5, 2003, McCain said:
"We lost in Vietnam because we lost the will to fight, because we did not understand the nature of the war we were fighting, and because we limited the tools at our disposal."

McCain discussed the early incarnations of his temper in Virginia earlier this week. Here is The New York Times on the matter:

“I was always the new kid, and was accustomed to proving myself quickly at each new school as someone not to be challenged lightly. As a young man, I would respond aggressively and sometimes irresponsibly to anyone whom I perceived to have questioned my sense of honor and self-respect. Those responses often got me in a fair amount of trouble earlier in life.”

“In all candor, as an adult I’ve been known to forget occasionally the discretion expected of a person of my years and station when I believe I’ve been accorded a lack of respect I did not deserve,’’ he says. “Self-improvement should be a work in progress all our lives, and I confess to needing it as much as anyone. But I believe if my detractors had known me at Episcopal they might marvel at the self-restraint and mellowness I developed as an adult. Or perhaps they wouldn’t quite see it that way.’’

This story is cross-posted at Iowa where it first appeared.

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