Of candidates and hemispheres

Spain is (mostly) in the Western Hemisphere, which is not identical to the New World.

I am shocked &#8212 shocked! &#8212 that my friend Mike O’Hare has chosen to misrepresent the level of John McCain’s ignorance. (I’m also impressed that Mike figured out a way to overstate it, which I wouldn’t have thought possible.

When McCain referred to Spain as part of “the hemisphere,” McCain was entirely correct. If the Western Hemisphere is defined as the part of the world west of the Greenwich Meridian and east of the 180° line, (most of) Spain is indeed in our hemisphere, even thinking in East-West rather than North-South terms.

And of course John McCain knew that.

All right, all right, so McCain didn’t seem to know that Spain is a NATO ally with troops in Afghanistan, or that Zapatero was the Spanish leader, or simply didn’t hear the question, and therefore didn’t say “Of course Señor Zapatero would be welcome at the White House at a convenient time, as any allied leader would be.” And yes, instead of owning up to a trivial blunder, the McCain campaign chose to offer a gratuitous insult to an ally, one that will be soon forgotten here but long remembered in Spain. And yes, that clearly shows (if more proof were needed) that McCain is unfit to be President.

But McCain did not flunk his geography test. Not only that, he was a P.O.W., though he’s so reluctant to mention it that you might not have heard.

So Mike owes McCain an apology. Just as McCain owes Zapatero an apology. I’m betting on Mike to set a good example.

Clarification: I’d like to clarify Prof. O’Hare’s remarks. Prof. O’Hare knew exactly what he was saying, and always does, and doesn’t do apologies, which are for craven conservatives. Zapatero at the time of the interview was in, um, Barcelona, yeah, more than two whole degrees into the Eastern Hemisphere, and by obvious synechdochic substitution, the ever-so-sharp McCain denoted “Spain” by Zapatero, so at that moment, McCain could only have meant Spain was in the Northern but not the Western Hemisphere. – my O’Hare’s flack.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com