The EFM Feature

Does McCain have the temperament to be President? Powerline goes behind the scenes to piece together John McCain’s breakdown of profanity the other day, if you’re interested in such things. I’m not sure that dropping the “F Bomb” is particularly newsworthy, except that–as Powerline notes–McCain defended his reputation as a hothead on Fox News Sunday, “saying he loses his temper only when he sees corruption and wasteful spending. This incident involved neither. It was instead a simple policy dispute, where he didn’t want to debate how his legislation would actually work.”

Senator McCain has been largely missing from the Senate since late March, when it became apparent his fundraising operation was seriously lagging. Senator McCain hasn’t made a Senate vote in the past five weeks. But he wanted to be front and center when the immigration bargain was announced, and Kennedy and Specter did everything they could to accommodate him. They reserved the Senate press gallery room for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, just in time for Senator McCain to attend before heading out to New York for more fundraising.
A minor problem arose. Bush administration negotiators and a bipartisan Senate group had been meeting several days a week since February, often with glacial progress. (McCain rarely attended, though his staff was there.) As of Thursday morning, however, agreement hadn’t been reached. A final meeting started at 10 a.m. in hopes of finishing the deal. With a dozen Senators, two Cabinet members (Chertoff and Gutierrez) and perhaps 15 staffers in the room discussing an unpublished documents exceeding 300 pages in length, it was slow going. Senator Cornyn, tacitly supported by Sen. Jon Kyl, pushed hard to streamline legal procedures to allow prompt deportation of illegals. Senator Kennedy resisted.
As the clock moved closer to 1:30 p.m., Senator McCain suddenly lost it. “This is chickenshit,” he told Senator Cornyn. “I think it would expedite things if you would just leave the room, Senator, so we can get along with finishing this up.” Senator Cornyn responded: “Wait a minute. We’ve been meeting for three months on this in good faith, and now you parachute in here this morning and tell me to leave? I think you’re out of line.”
Senator McCain responded: “F*** you! I know what is going on here. I know more about immigration than anybody in this room!” Other Senators moved in to calm things down, and the talks went on. Senator Cornyn’s provision was not included. At 1:30 p.m. sharp, the conferees (not including Senators Cornyn or Menendez and a few other negotiators) were in the press gallery, congratulating each other. Senator Kennedy recognized Senator McCain early to make his televised comments, then Senator McCain departed before the press conference was over for a flight to New York City. Later that afternoon, he missed yet another Senate vote -– this one on the Democrats’ $2.9 trillion budget plan, an outline for the largest tax increase in U.S. history.

Did you see how “The Corner” was cracking jokes about how Gov. Romney says “Golly” a great deal? They called him a “gollygamist“–which, comparatively, seems wonderfully restrained.


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