Randy Gives it His Best Shot

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The Washington Post has gotten hold of McCain’s Spain goof. And McCain advisor Randy Scheunemann has sent the Post an email suggesting that McCain knew exactly who Zapatero was and was simply repeating the neocon anti-Zapatero line.

Now, I was away Tuesday and Thursday, so I still want to come back to whether Scheunemann was working with bamboozler Amir Taheri on his made-up Obama-Iraq piece. So we’ll get back to that.

But on this, nice try, Randy. I don’t doubt that Scheunemann and his neocon pals still have it in for Zapatero for pulling his troops out of Iraq. I admit it is difficult to believe that McCain either doesn’t know who Zapatero is or doesn’t know which continent Spain is currently a part of. And we can question the wisdom of a major party presidential candidate suggesting that a major NATO ally might be part of his Axis of Evil — along with Hugo Chavez. But Randy’s attempted save here does not add up. If McCain knew who Zapatero was, why did he repeatedly refer to him as a Latin American leader? Spain is not in Latin America. I’m certain of it.

I mean, maybe McCain did know exactly who he was talking about and just got confused about Spain being a country in Latin America. But I’m not sure that’s much better.

Read the transcript or listen to the interview. The most logical explanation of this gaffe is that McCain got asked about Zapatero right after being asked about Chavez, Castro and Morales. Not remembering who Zapatero was, he assumed he must be some other Latin American tinpot dictator and answered the question accordingly. We could be generous and assume he was just upping the ante on the normal neocon line. But by repeatedly referring to Spain as a country in Latin America, McCain just doesn’t make that interpretation tenable for any fair-minded reader.

Face it, he got confused.

Late Update: We’re getting a flood of good emails interpreting what happened here. The most generous interpretation we’re hearing is that McCain couldn’t understand what the interviewer was saying — she’s a native Spanish speaker speaking in an accented English, though she says repeatedly she’s talking about Spain. Rather than ask her to clarify he decided to wing it, assuming she must be talking about some other Latin American bad guy. I think there’s a good chance this is what happened. (I don’t think that if you actually walked up to McCain today and asked him whether Spain is in Europe or Latin America that he wouldn’t know. But on the fly he did seem to get confused.) But I don’t think this puts him in a very good light. And, needless to say, this interpretation is entirely inconsistent with Scheunemann’s suggestion that McCain knew exactly who he was talking about and just wanted to stick it to Zapatero. Whether he got confused about who Zapatero was or was too proud to admit he didn’t understand the question, he still shot from the hip and insisted that Zapatero, the Prime Minister of a major NATO ally country, is from Latin America. He’s not ready for prime time.

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