There has been a lot of speculation in the blogoshpere about whether McCain called his wife Cindy a c***, as reported in The Real McCain by Cliff Schecter. Those who reported it were unwilling to be identified, and that undercuts the claim’s credibility, so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. (I must confess a lot of that doubt is an argument from personal incredulity. It’s hard to imagine that someone stupid enough to say that in public could get elected to anything.)
But there is also the profile of Cindy McCain in Newsweek. It was supposed to help her shed her Stepford wife image, but I have to say the cover picture was a poor choice, unless she was supposed to look like a mannequin with a rod up her — spine. The article itself presented her in a more favorable light, a woman who had raised her children pretty much alone, though she could certainly hire all the help she needed, and she didn’t have to worry about paying bills. I also think there’s more than a little self-deception in her pretending she was a Navy wife whose husband was deployed to Washington — and telling the children that. But while going through two miscarriages, recovering from and addiction to pain killers, and learning to walk again after a stroke by herelf may say good things about her strength, it says nothing good about her husband. That he was absent for two of her three miscarriages is unfortunate but understandable. Miscarriages happen suddenly and can be over very quickly. That he never noticed her addiction, says something about how much attention he paid to her, but again, addicts can be very good at hiding, and he wasn’t around much. Her mother noticed, and prompted her to quit. Both of those things are understandable, but leaving her to recover from a stroke by herself is not. He wasn’t taking care of their children while she recovered; the children stayed with friends, while she rented a condo in San Diego and focused on her recovery. The article didn’t say what he was doing that was so much more important than his wife and children.
I try not to judge other people’s relationships. Heaven knows I have friends and family who have chosen partners that seem to me to be unfathomably bad matches. Although, I suppose, if what she wanted was children, and what he wanted was a political power base and the money to fund his first campaign, then this was actually a very good match, but in a very real sense this is all none of my business, even though they chose to present this material in Newsweek.
But if he doesn’t respect his wife, why should I expect him to respect any other woman? And he doesn’t appear to respect his wife. Cindy McCain earned a master’s degree in special education from USC, while he finished near the bottom of his class, but he denigrates her achievement by calling USC the “University of Spoiled Children.”
Then there’s the biker rally where McCain went in search of a crowd. He suggested his wife should enter the beauty contest for the title of ‘Miss Buffalo Chip.’ This is not the Miss America Pageant. This is a competition where the ‘talent’ involves demonstrating how you eat a banana (think Dangerous Beauty), and the swimsuit competition is very skimpy bikinis and very suggestive dancing, all for the title of ‘Miss Dried-Out Bison Shit.’ And he thought his wife should join in the fun. Either he didn’t know what he was suggesting (Given that crowd I find that hard to believe. It was a biker rally with all that biker implies, and no, I am not suggesting that everyone who rides a motorcycle is a biker.) in which case he should have bloody well found out before he suggested it, or he did know, and though it was okay. Unlike the things mentioned in the Newsweek article, this was a public expression of what he thought of his wife.
Should personal boorishness disqualify one from high office? We have certainly had boors in the oval office in the past, and if he was just embarrassingly boorish, it would be one thing, but this attitude toward women and women’s issues is also clear in his policy positions. If they did not translate into current attitudes and policy positions, his antics as a young fighter jock in the strip clubs of Florida would not be relevant, but they do, and they are.
It all makes the allegation in Schecter’s book seem more likely. I’m still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that particular charge, but the doubt is shrinking. As for whether he should be president, there is no doubt. Absolutely not.