McCain fucking forgot. He not only forgot who the Prime Minister of Spain is, he forgot Spain is a country in Europe, and he's apparently too fucking dense to hear an interviewer patiently explain it several times.
Steve Benen, with the help of TPM and the Huffington Post, make the case:
So what? some might say. So he doesn't know who the Prime Minister of Spain is. Neither do I. Who cares?
Late Wednesday night, news made its way from the other side of the Atlantic that John McCain, in an interview with a Spanish outlet, had made a series of bizarre responses to a question regarding that country's prime minister.
"Would you be willing to meet with the head of our government, Mr. Zapatero?" the questioner asked, in an exchange now being reported by several Spanish outlets.
McCain proceeded to launch into what appeared to be a boilerplate declaration about Mexico and Latin America -- but not Spain -- pressing the need to stand up to world leaders who want to harm America.
"I will meet with those leaders who are our friends and who want to work with us cooperatively," according to one translation. The reporter repeated the question two more times, apparently trying to clarify, but McCain referred again to Latin America.
Finally, the questioner said, "Okay, but I'm talking about Europe -- the president of Spain, would you meet with him?" The Senator offered only a slight variance to his initial comment. "I will reunite with any leader that has the same principles and philosophy that we do: human rights, democracy, and liberty. And I will confront those that don't [have them]."
I don't speak Spanish, so I'm not in a position to report on the audio of the interview, but Aravosis is fluent, and he reached an important conclusion: "McCain didn't appear to know that Spain was in Europe, or that the leader of Spain was named Zapatero, even after he was told that Zapatero was the leader of Spain."Josh Marshall, who broke the story and has done a lot of the heavy lifting, explored the various possibilities: "The great majority [of those who have weighed in] 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..."
As of very early this morning, Josh had tracked down another audio version from a Miami radio station, which makes it easier to hear McCain's English responses. They only reinforced what appeared to be true initially: "It's still a bit difficult to hear McCain since the translator is speaking simultaneously. But you can hear most of what he says. It's pretty clear that McCain doesn't remember who Zapatero is. And he keeps referring to his approach to Latin America even after the interview keeps pointing that she's asking him a question a Spain, which is actually in Europe."
Set aside the fact that it's the President's fucking job to know who the leaders of important NATO allies like Spain are. Disregard the spectacular geographical ignorance. Those things aren't small, but for the sake of the argument, we'll pretend they don't matter one spit. This is still a hugely important story, because it tells us something urgent about McCain's mind:
He's losing it.
Just a few months ago, he knew exactly who Zapatero is:
In less than five months, he's forgotten who the Prime Minister of Spain is. A man he invited to the US, no less. And he seemed to have at least a ballpark idea of where and what Spain is: now, he can't even place it in the right hemisphere.
'These statements by McCain contract [sic] with those that he made to EL PAIS last April, when he said 'now is the time to leave past discrepancies with Spain behind' he added 'I would like for him (President Zapatero) to visit the United States'.
And when the interviewer tries to correct him on Zapatero's identity and the location of Spain, he can't comprehend what she's saying. Remember: this interview was conducted in perfect English. You can't put this down to language barriers. He just doesn't understand what she's saying. You can tell, because he gets stuck on a one-size-fits-all talking point that he hopes is vague enough to cover his senior moment.
He's reminding me of the last conversation I ever had with my grandmother, who died of Alzheimers not long after. We'd been talking about the weather in Arizona - hot and dry. My grandmother lost the thread of the conversation. She couldn't remember Arizona or the weather, but she picked up on the hot and dry and decided we'd been discussing hairdryers. She started talking about hairdryers with great confidence, sure she had it right.
I'm starting to wonder if McCain's most recent inanities are a sign of dementia rather than political pandering and win-at-any-cost Republicon fuckery. The man can't remember what he said about the economy a year, a day, or even an hour ago. But he's trying to sound certain. He wants us to believe he's still sharp, still large and in charge.
He's the furthest thing from it. And with the country in the worst economic mess since the Great Depression, stuck in two wars and getting pounded by global warming, the last thing we need in the White House is a demented old codger and his corrupt, fundie, clueless sidekick.