Read the transcript. It’s a testament to Josh Marshall’s influence among the left that his obsessing over this very stupid exchange is enough to push it onto the media’s plate. Here’s the money part, which “proves” that McCain is either (a) senile, (b) so stupid that he doesn’t know which hemisphere Spain is in, (c) ready to treat Spain as an enemy state:
Q: So you have to wait and see if [Zapatero] is willing to meet with you, will you be able to do it in the White House?
McCain: Well, again, I don’t. All I can tell you is that I have a clear record of working with leaders in the hemisphere that are friends with us and standing up to those who are not. And that’s judged on the basis of the importance of our relationship with Latin America and the entire region.
He doesn’t want to say definitively that he’ll meet with Zapatero given that relations between him and Bush have been, shall we say, frosty, and he doesn’t want to say definitively that he won’t meet with him because Spain is, after all, an ally, so he’s filibustering her with a stock answer about the criteria he’d use for meeting with any world leader. The reference to Latin America is his (admittedly awkward) way of steering the conversation back to that area of the world, which is where the interview began. Don’t believe me? Just ask the interviewer. She took it exactly the same way. And the punchline? McCain already said he’d meet with Zapatero earlier this year. He may be downplaying that now to burnish his “tough leader” image for the general election, but if so, he’s no guiltier of opportunistic flip-flopping than The One is vis-a-vis, say, NAFTA.
Don’t miss Soeren Kern’s piece on this idiocy at Pajamas, adding a bit of context about Zapatero’s cynical anti-American demagoguery. Exit question: Why would McCain be cool about committing to meeting with a guy who’s on record as saying he hopes Obama wins?