A reader reminds me that John McCain’s tendency to lash out uncontrollably, demonstrated in his unjustified personal attack on Barack Obama, is nothing new:
Go back to the nomination of John Tower for SecDef. One of the people who spoke out about him was a former (if memory serves) airman who spoke out about seeing Tower arrive for an inspection visit at an aribase being drunk. McCain managed to get the guy’s confidential medical records (which included psychiatric info), went to the floor of the Senate and read them into the record.
So let’s note — McCain did an action that, were he not on the floor of the Senate, could have gotten him sued and possibly proscuted for violations of confidentiality of medical records, because he was angry that his buddy Tower had been exposed. And let’s be real – most of the Senate knew about Tower’s alcoholism, since it was not unknown for him to show up on the floor soused, to put it mildly. Like JFK’s womanizing, this was an open secret in DC, but one to which the voters and general public had not been made privy.
One reason I never got excited about the so-called “straight talk express” during the runup to 2000 is that I remembered this incident.
If any reader can confirm or disconfirm either the story itself or the attribution to Rothfeder, please let me know. [Confirmed: see below.]
I’ve often wondered why McCain was so forgiving about the Bush/Rove/Reed slime attack that killed him in South Carolina in 2000; perhaps the explanation is that he tends to behave the same way himself.
One reason I tend to discount “character” as a political issue is that, with rare exceptions, my knowledge of candidates’ character comes from the press, and reporters seem to be execrable judges of character. McCain and Nader, two media-made secular saints, are exhibits A and B.
Update Yes indeed. McCain obtained, and read into the Record, a distorted version of the psychiatric records of a certain Sgt. Jackson. Only McCain’s immunity under the Speech & Debate clause kept his actions from being criminal.