Well, it doesn’t appear to have registered in the American press yet. But the story keeps bubbling in the Spanish press about McCain’s bizarre gaffe about the Spanish Prime Minister. Here’s the front page cut out from the Spanish news channel that did the interview. They’ve talked to the interviewer now. Her take? McCain didn’t know who Zapatero was …
Late Update: So McCain is the candidate with the foreign policy experience ready to lead on day one. But he doesn’t know who the leader of Spain is. He gets confused in an interview, apparently thinking Zapatero is someone from Latin America who is an enemy of the United States and manages to create a minor international incident.
Later Update: Here’s another Spanish press reax. In Spain, there seem to be two lines of thinking. The great majority appear to think the McCain was simply confused and didn’t know who Zapatero was — something you might bone up on if you were about to do an interview with the Spanish press. The assumption seems to be that since he’d already been asked about Castro and Chavez that McCain assumed Zapatero must be some other Latin American bad guy. A small minority though think that McCain is simply committed to an anti-Spanish foreign policy since he’s still angry about Spain pulling it’s troops out of Iraq. Finally, a few of those who lean toward the first view speculate that McCain may have confused Zapatero with the Zapatista rebel group in Mexico.
Even Later Update: One representative reader response, from among many …
I listened to the interview. The characterization is correct. I originally gave McCain the benefit of the doubt, thinking that he was just snubbing Zapatero (something that would be welcomed by the Spanish right). When I was there, there was a lot of agitation among Spanish conservatives because Zapatero was ignoring the country’s relations with the U.S. and making overtures to more leftist countries in the Latin America–Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia (all the countries mentioned in this interview before Spain). There was even a controversy because Zapatero sat down when the U.S. flag was passing by in a parade. I believe his excuse was “his legs were tired.” So I figured McCain was giving the Zapatero the cold shoulder in the same manner as the Bush administration has done.
After listening to the interview, however, I agree with the characterization that McCain was unaware of our relations with Spain, or even the country’s geographical and political position. When asked about meeting with Zapatero and the country’s relationship with the U.S., McCain ignored the question and went into some boilerplate about America’s friends and enemies and analyzing relations (think Palin and the Bush Doctrine). Then, he tried to transition his answer into more friendly territory, discussing President Calderon’s government in Mexico. He never really addressed Spain, but pushed right into commenting about Mexico. The interviewer actually tried to redirect him several times (again, think Charlie Gibson and Palin), until she actually stated that she wasn’t talking about Latin America anymore, but rather Europe. For whatever reason, McCain responded to this question by repeating what he said before about analyzing America’s relationships with our friends and enemies.
Seriously, this was pretty bad.