McCain's Spain Gaffe: Spanish Press Abuzz

Bump and Update: Time Magazine picks up on McCain's gaffe in the Pain in Spain.

Update: Here is the audio of McCain's interview in English:

TPM reports the Spanish press is abuzz with McCain's latest gaffe about Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero. TPM's original reports are here and here.

It appears McCain got confused and thought Zapatero was from a Latin American country.


Update: A reader writes in:

I am a second generation Cuban American. I read, speak, and write English and Spanish fluently. I listened to the Audio of the interview this morning in disbelief. He was asked 4 different and separate times by the reporter and the reporter clarified each time that she was talking about Europe and Spain. Either he was not paying any attention to the question 4 times and that raises questions about his competence. Or he will have a harder line/more neo-conservative position about one of our NATO allies. Either way...it is not reassuring with what is going on right now.

For those of you who read Spanish, from one of the news reports:

"Me reuniría con aquellos líderes que son nuestros amigos", "tengo que evaluar las relaciones internacionales, y las prioridades" o "mi historial es el de quien ha trabajado en una atmósfera de amistad con los que son nuestros amigos y de plantar cara a los que no lo son"

Another version:

"Me reuniría con cualquiere líder que tenga los mismos principios y filosofía que nosotros y me enfrentaré a los que no"

Another Spanish article is here. He implied Zapatero was one of our enemies. Maybe he was thinking of the dissident Zapatistas? On a related note, check out the new book, the Fire and the Word, on the history of the Zapatistas.

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    Yeah. . . (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 11:32:56 PM EST
    he got Zapatero and the Zapatistas mixed up.

    Used to be he was the one with the foreign policy chops, but now the zapato is on the other foot!

    I can read Spanish (none / 0) (#2)
    by txpolitico67 on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 11:44:45 PM EST
    and what's more telling are the comments left by the readers.  They're varied but some remark about how Spain isn't important to the USA because they have no oil.

    A few were about how Spain is grouped into Europe by the USA and how Americans in general couldn't find Europe on a map, much less Spain, hence the grouping.

    I didn't see many comments about how the confusion of Zapatero.  I read about 3 pages of the comments.  There was just basic criticism of America.  Spain right now is run by a center-left leader, who, GOT THE SPANISH troops OUT OF IRAQ when he was elected.

    No bullcorning there.  Very Kucinichesque.  My kinda guy.


    read his quotes (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 11:49:04 PM EST
    if you speak Spanish. It's pretty clear he compared Zapatero to someone who would be on the side of those who would do America harm. I'm not fluent, but even I can get that.

    You are also way over-limit for pro-McCain/anti-Obama comments today.


    I read the quotes and (none / 0) (#57)
    by LatinoDC on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:41:22 AM EST
    Spanish is my first language.  McCain simply refuses to answer the question, and the answer he gives implies that he considers Zapatero to be "hostile" or at the same level of Morales and Chavez (it is also a mistake to put these two at the same level).  Otherwise he would've said: "Yes, I would meet with him"....it's worrisome...I'm just tired of people who see the world as a board game...

    Don't Forget (none / 0) (#17)
    by Randinho on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 07:04:45 AM EST
    Spain has troops in Afghanistan.

    off with the zapato (none / 0) (#3)
    by CoralGables on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 11:46:11 PM EST
    Good to see the sense of humor is bilingual but it looks like, to the Spaniards at least, McCain's zapato was off and his foot planted in firmly in his mouth.

    McCain's tired. (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by clio on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 12:34:05 AM EST
    It shows in his videos yesterday and today.  It's been a tough 2 weeks keeping up with Gov. Palin, who, whatever faults she may have, certainly doesn't lack stamina.

    McCain, however, is 71, and a physiologically old 71 at that.  I had read that his handlers had decided to limit him to one campaign appearance per day and to rest him on weekends.  It seems he's been doing much more than that since the convention, and many of those appearances have been raucous, stamina-draining events with Gov. Palin.*  It shows.

    Whatever McCain's mental acuity may be, and it seems incontrovertible that he has some age-related memory loss, fatigue will decrease it (as it does with everyone).  He's not going to be able to handle the debates if he doesn't get more rest.

    *OTOH I have to admire the way the campaign has used Gov. Palin to "spell" McCain during these appearances.  She'll warm up the crowd, McCain says a few words, then she takes over again.  

    But how's that going to work in the White House?

    He's showing his dodder (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by scribe on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 10:47:07 AM EST
    and that's not good.  Remember, in addition to being 72, it's been a hard 72.  And, remember, as I wrote in this diary, McCain/Palin Roulette, you have a better chance of winning at Russian Roulette than you do of his surviving his first term.  

    I am inclined to believe that, maybe the first time through, he confused Zapatero and Zapatista.  But, when he dug in his heels and slipped into a canned talking point, he showed just how weak - mentally and, doubtless, physically, he is.  I have little doubt he's feeling debilitated merely from the pace of the campaign.  But that pace does not subside - Bush's extended vacationing notwithstanding - once one enters the Oval Office.  Rather, it gets worse.

    McCain is a doddering old man, slipping into the confusion people of his age often suffer.  He should ride off, quietly, into a retirement.  Not to the White House.

    If, OTOH, he should win and then become disabled or die, then you get Palin.  Interviewed about her, the retiring Republican senator Hagel of Nebraska said in an interview:

    "She doesn't have any foreign policy credentials," Hagel said in an interview. "You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don't know what you can say. You can't say anything."

    . . .

    Palin has cited the proximity of Alaska to Russia as evidence of her international experience.

    Hagel scoffed at that notion.

    "I think they ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about, 'I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia,'" he said. "That kind of thing is insulting to the American people."

    . . .

    Hagel offered a couple caveats on his assessment of Palin: Experience is not the only qualification for elected officials -- judgment and character are indispensable.

    Washington experience isn't the only kind of experience, Hagel said, and he noted that many White House occupants have been governors with no time inside the Beltway.

    "But I do think in a world that is so complicated, so interconnected and so combustible, you really got to have some people in charge that have some sense of the bigger scope of the world," Hagel said. "I think that's just a requirement."

    So is Palin qualified to be president?

    "I think it's a stretch to, in any way, to say that she's got the experience to be president of the United States," Hagel said.

    So, the Republicans have a weak, old man who is showing signs of slipping, and a callow fundamentalist firebrand vying to grasp the levers of power.  If they're elected, an incident like this insulting Spain and the Spanish Prime Minister will be the least of our worries.

    Yes, yes, yes... (3.50 / 2) (#35)
    by ks on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 10:57:32 AM EST
    McCain's tired and old and he doesn't know how to use the internet and he's going to die any minute!!!!

    Mabye he just needs to take a Hawaiian vacation.

    I get it already though I'm not sure why some Dems think continuning such a concern trolly and insulting line of attack is going to help.  Especially with senior voters who are one of the most reliable voting blocs.


    Because it's true. (5.00 / 3) (#38)
    by scribe on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:05:53 AM EST
    Just a senor moment, (5.00 / 2) (#50)
    by KeysDan on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:27:58 AM EST
    but he is knowledgeable about Spain, he can see Europe from one of his houses.

    I thought that boat he was on for his b'day, (none / 0) (#77)
    by scribe on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 12:25:26 PM EST
    the one with Anne Hathaway and her now-convicted con-man boyfriend, you could see Spain from there, right?

    I mean, Macedonia's kinda near Spain and they're both on the water?  Right?


    No, it's just your questionable opinions (2.00 / 1) (#41)
    by ks on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:10:46 AM EST
    Except for the old part though it is funny how the old guy keeps on keepin' on while the youngish guy has to take vacations.

    Really? (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by RedJet on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:30:25 AM EST
    From Feb 7th to now McCain has held just one public campaign event, he takes the rest of the weekend off. That is, to this date, 64 days - 66 if you include this weekend.

    Obama took a one week vacation... oh, and he took a weekend or rather a night off hosting a sleepover (we called them slumber parties) for his daughter with eight seven-year olds. That is 8 days.

    So who is the one "keepin'?


    Edited to say (none / 0) (#52)
    by RedJet on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:35:36 AM EST
    From Feb 7th he has only had one campaign event on the weekend.

    He has since taken every weekend off.

    The original sentence was not specific.


    That's just ridiculous spin (none / 0) (#66)
    by ks on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:53:53 AM EST
    But MCain's old! and frail!! and doddering!!! and getting ready to die!!!! so he needs the rest.  lol.

    Just one "public campaign event" since Feb 7th?  Um, okay. I'll asume you mean on the weekend because otherwise that's especially ridiculous. Also, I guess you are trying to avoid weekend press interviews and stuff like the SaddleBack forum 8/16 (Sat) and are "overlooking" the recent public events on 8/30 and 9/6 (both Saturdays).  

    I mean really, that may go over well...elsewhere...but you and I both know it's pretty absurd.  Especailly, if it's this easy to debunk.


    Because there is a vey good chance (none / 0) (#78)
    by Blowback on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 02:55:32 PM EST
    he will pass on during his term and then it will be President Palin.

    Can you say "President Palin"?

    Remember how improbable it sounded in September, 2000 to say "President Bush"? (again)

    Sh** happens. McCain IS old & worn out.


    Age doesn't seem (none / 0) (#79)
    by rennies on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 08:52:54 PM EST
    to have affected their brains.

    I don't get it. (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by LatinoVoter on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 02:25:25 AM EST
    None of the quotes read like he's mixing up Zapatero with anyone.

    "Me reuniría con aquellos líderes que son nuestros amigos", "tengo que evaluar las relaciones internacionales, y las prioridades" o "mi historial es el de quien ha trabajado en una atmósfera de amistad con los que son nuestros amigos y de plantar cara a los que no lo son"

    He says he'll meet with leaders that are our friends. That he has to evaluate international replationships and priorities. He says his history is one of working with our friends and facing those who aren't.

    "Me reuniría con cualquiere líder que tenga los mismos principios y filosofía que nosotros y me enfrentaré a los que no"

    He says he'll meet with whatever leader has the same principles and philosophies as us and he'll confront those that don't.

    The article on cadenaser.com says that the reporter wasn't firm enough in trying to get a straight answer and because of that there's the possibility that there is some confusion. But regardless of that with his vague answers he was able to sidestep questions about his relationship with Zapatero and ultimately with Spain.

    The article on elpaise.com has a quote that is a little different.

    "Me reuniría con cualquier líder que tenga los mismos principios y filosofía que nosotros: derechos humanos, democracia y libertad. Y me enfrentaré a los que no."

    He says he'll meet with whatever leader has the same principles and philosophies (human rights, democracy and liberty) as us and he'll confront those that don't.

    It follows up with a quote from Zapatero on what his impression is of why McCain was being vague. Zapatero says that he understands that McCain has to be vague because he's in the middle of an election. Zapatero then goes on to say that his relationship with GWB isn't the best.

    The article then says that this (McCain's latest comment)is a contrast to what he told the paper back in April where he said we had to let bygones be bygones with Spain and he added that he would like for Zapatero to visit the US. The article then says that among diplomatic circles that McCains attitude yesterday is being attributed to being confused because the interview was centered around Latin America.

    This doesn't read to me like he mixed up Zapatero with someone else. It read like McCain flip-flopped and retracted the olive branch he'd extended to Zapatero. Btw neither of the headlines indicate that McCain was confused and of the two links only El Pais says he was confused and neither say he implied Zapatero was one of our enemies.

    Listen to the interview (none / 0) (#9)
    by Socraticsilence on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 02:45:12 AM EST
    The interviewer has to clarify when she asks the question for the 4th time-- mentioning that she's asking about Europe not Latin America, McCain apperetly can't tell the difference (or thinks Spain is in Latin America).

    Yes, I know. (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by LatinoVoter on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:24:59 AM EST
    She says

    "finally lets turn to Spain, would you be willing to meet with President Zapatero in the White House?"

    He answers that he would be willing to meet with those leaders who are our friends and who want to work with us cooperatively. For example; President Calderone of Mexico who is battling drug cartels and we are cooperating with the Mexican government and that he has intentions to continue to meet and invite all the leaders that he can to the White House.

    The reporter asks if that invitation would be extended to President Zapatero.

    He then say: Honestly I have to analyze the situation and priorities but I can assure you that I'll establish blah, blah, blah, I know how to do both.

    Then the reporter says you'll have to wait and see if you'll meet with him or you'll invite him to the white house?

    Then McCain says "again, my history is one of working with blah, blah, blah atmosphere of friendship blah blah this is the base of our relationship with Latin America.

    Then the reporter says right, but what about Europe the president of Spain will you be willing to meet with him.

    Then McCain says "I am willing to meet with those leaders blah, blah blah same principles as us-democracy and freedom and I will stand up to those that do not.

    So here's the way I see it.

    1. If everything was fine between the US and Spain why did McCain basically say in April that everything was water under the bridge and that he'd like for Zapatero to come to the US.

    2. If everything was fine between the US and Spain why does the reporter have to ask if McCain will meet with the president of Spain? Aren't meetings between two nations who are friends and whose relationship is not fractured a given?

    And when McCain says that he wants to meet with leaders who are our friends and work with us cooperatively like those nice and docile Mexicans who are fighting their drug cartels and our friends in Latin America, could he be saying that he's POed that Zapatero called for the removal of Spanish troops from Iraq?

    Could he be going to great lengths to talk about "friends" and using the example of those Latin American countries who ask "How high?" when the US says "JUMP!" as a signal to Zapatero that he better fall in line like Mexico?

    The answer that included the line about "democracy and liberty" sounded to me like the talking points of someone who knows about the Bush Doctrine and doesn't like that Zapatero doesn't want to adhere to it.


    The thing is that instead of (none / 0) (#61)
    by LatinoDC on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:46:36 AM EST
    giving a straight answer he gives a definition of whom he would meet with...this implies he wouldn't meet with Zapatero, otherwise he would've said it, right?

    Thats a very charitable interpretation. (none / 0) (#11)
    by JoeA on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 03:18:16 AM EST
    Even from your reading,  it seems to suggest that McCain had no clue who Zapatero was, and was bluffing with standard boilerplate.  Or are you seriously suggesting that a McCain administration would need to assess whether Spain was a friend or an enemy before deciding whether McCain would be willing to meet with their leader?  That really would be news if that was true.

    I don't think election fence sitters will (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by bslev22 on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 06:54:39 AM EST
    be influenced by shock in the Spanish press or Spanish government or among the good people of Spain.  I think that Democrats lose sometimes when we focus on what people outside of the borders of the United States think about us OR our candidates.  Fair? No.  Misguided?  Yes.  Truth. Irrebuttable.

    Oh please. (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 10:40:30 AM EST
    The fact that McCain apparently can't decide whether he would even be willing to meet the Prime Minister of Spain is acutely different from the issue of how the candidates poll in suburban Paris.

    No one really cares what the Europeans think about the Presidential election. But everyone ought to care deeply what the Presidential candidates think (and know) about Europe.


    Oh please? (none / 0) (#43)
    by bslev22 on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:12:56 AM EST
    What I said was so far off the wall? :) You write that "everyone ought to care deeply what the Presidential candidates think (and know) about Europe".  I agree with you 100 percent, but what in heaven's name does that have to do with what I posted?

    The off the wall part. . . (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:43:53 AM EST
    is conflating Europeans opinion of the candidates (which, yes, the left does love to cite and which is probably harmful in the election) with the candidates' knowledge of European affairs which is an important campaign issue.

    Where I grew up, the rural (none / 0) (#48)
    by eric on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:21:25 AM EST
    folks referred to Mexican immigrants as being "Spanish", so your point is well taken.

    McCain doesn't seem to remember the name of the (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by steviez314 on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 07:47:13 AM EST
    current U.S. president, so I'm not surprised he doesn't know the name of the Spanish PM.

    Heh! (none / 0) (#28)
    by scribe on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 10:50:01 AM EST
    Him and all the other Republicans.  Go watch one dodge and weave.

    well (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by connecticut yankee on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 08:57:27 AM EST
    Least he didnt call him Zorro.  That might have been really ugly.

    As I understand it (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:05:40 AM EST
    we have had a rather complex relationship with Spain for the last several years, and not only because Zapatero pulled the Spanish troops out of Iraq.

    Someone will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe there is bad blood with Zapatero relating to some incident where he refused to acknowledge the American flag as a protest against the war.  I don't know exactly what the repercussions were, but I seem to recall that Condoleezza Rice met with Zapatero a year or two ago and even that was viewed as a significant step in light of the frosty history.

    So if I'm right about the context, the question of whether McCain would have Zapatero to the White House is not just a standard inquiry, but actually a pretty important question in terms of whether we are getting back to seeing Spain as a friend and ally again.  I don't know what the "correct" answer is, but it does strike me as a question that needs to be answered with a certain degree of delicacy, not a boilerplate response that leaves the questioner wondering if McCain even knows who Zapatero is.

    If I'm failing to understand the context I hope someone will set me straight.

    You're right that (none / 0) (#44)
    by eric on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:15:50 AM EST
    there was some issue about Zapatero not standing up for the US flag.  It was harped on by right-wingers, not so much by the mainstream.  Anyway, with all of that being said, McCain clearly didn't have any of this in mind at the time.  He was thinking ONLY about Latin America.  He didn't even seem to realize that this was SPAIN he was being asked about.

    You are correct that, if McCain does carry a grudge, and if Iraq and this flag dust-up is an issue for him, he does need to answer the question delicately.  We are in NATO with Spain, after all, which by definition means that we are allies...  But that isn't even an issue because he never got there.  In his mind, he didn't leave the Western Hemisphere.


    McCain didn`t commit any gaffe!!! (1.00 / 1) (#12)
    by samuelbp on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 03:22:31 AM EST
    I guess that the writer of the post probably forgot why U.S. Presidents actual ot who wants to be, do NOT receive Mr Zapatero. A year before being elected for the post of Prime Minister, during our Spain national day, he was invited to a parade. U.S. troops were invited to this act, and Mr Zapatero sitted when U.S. flag and troops where passing. This was a big scandal here. Since then U.S. has blocked Mr Zapatero, and he didn't visit White House nor received any visit from your president. Relations between Spain and the U.S.A. have been very cold since then. Zapatero hopes that Obama will get elected and finish his isolation. THIS IS what McCain was talking about ,that he didn't forget this act and this is what the press meant here in Spain. How do you think you should act with someone that act like this with your flag? Independently of the side he is in, left or right.

    The gaffe was the fact that (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by eric on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 08:47:57 AM EST
    he was just confused.  The most recent TPM post clears is up completely.

    After the interviewer presses him a couple times on the point and tries to focus him on the fact that Prime Minister Zapatero isn't from Mexico and isn't a drug lord either McCain comes back at her saying, "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."

    Note the references to the "Hemisphere" and "Latin America".  McCain was totally lost.


    you are right... (none / 0) (#64)
    by LatinoDC on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:49:22 AM EST
    there was no reason to talk about Latin America here...wow, did he really make that mistake?

    I think McCain is ridiculous (none / 0) (#31)
    by befuddledvoter on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 10:51:42 AM EST
    if this was his thinking. We have enough actual enemies.  We don't need to add Spain of all countries to the list for some perceived slight having to do with ceremonial propriety (sitting vs. standing).  

    That kind of attitude makes enemies.


    Desculpame, (none / 0) (#36)
    by LatinoVoter on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:02:37 AM EST
    I didn't mean to give you a "1" rating on your post.

    Very interesting! (none / 0) (#39)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:08:32 AM EST
    So you are saying you think McCain deliberately was snubbing the Spanish PM as punishment for the offense of not standing in respect as American troops marched?

    If the insult was deliberate then you're right, it wouldn't be a gaffe.  It wouldn't be much better because, heaven knows, we can hardly afford to have fewer friends in the world than we have today.


    It's obviously (none / 0) (#46)
    by eric on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:19:03 AM EST
    a new form of snub - the I am going to assume you and your country are in Latin America snub.  Very clever!

    Apparently (none / 0) (#47)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:20:18 AM EST
    the McCain campaign is going with the story that it was an intentional snub.

    McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Sheunemann said McCain's answer was intentional. "The questioner asked several times about Senator McCain's willingness to meet Zapatero (and id'd him in the question so there is no doubt Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred). Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with President Zapatero in this interview," he said in an e-mail.

    The reporter's reaction was also interesting.  

    Radio Caracol is part of the Union Radio station group that is owned by the Spanish media conglomerate Groupo Prisa, which also owns Spain's El Pais newspaper. "The reason we asked the question about Spain is that we're owned by this big company in Spain. They wanted us to ask that question in the interview," according to Radio Caracol news director Madelin Prendes.

    Yoly Cuello, the reporter who interviewed McCain says she repeatedly asked McCain about Spain because "he didn't want to answer my question."

    "I think he was just trying not to answer the question, I think he understood" who Zaptero is and where he's from, Cuello said. She conducted the phone interview on Tuesday when McCain was campaigning in Miami and it aired Wednesday on Union Radio's 74 Spanish-language radio affiliates nationwide and on its stations in Colombia, Mexico and Spain.

    Cuello cannot believe the attention her interview has earned, she said, noting that she's heard almost nothing about it from her listeners in Miami.

    "People here are worried about lots of things, the economy, immigration. Not about Spain."

    It may be owned by a Spanish conglomerate (none / 0) (#55)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:39:41 AM EST
    But if it is the Radio Caracol I am familiar with, it is a Columbian outfit.

    That statement (none / 0) (#63)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:47:51 AM EST
    is incredible. That is the scandal in my opinion. McCain will not meet with a NATO ALLY???!!!

    yes (none / 0) (#82)
    by samuelbp on Mon Sep 22, 2008 at 05:09:24 AM EST
    Mr Zapatero deliberately sitted (he was standing previously) and standed up again after U.S flag and troops passed. and to consider a socialist government in Spain, "friend" is quite a good exercise of imagination

    Ridiculous (none / 0) (#62)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:47:00 AM EST
    Of course they would receive him.

    Spain is a NATO ally. Are you nuts?


    Wrong question. (none / 0) (#69)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 12:03:15 PM EST
    The right one is "Is McCain Nuts".

    I'll give you three letters to answer in.


    Thank you for providing a context (none / 0) (#80)
    by rennies on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 09:00:14 PM EST
    that is completely missing from the discussion on the blogs and MSM. From your account it appears that McCain knew exactly what he was saying. That still leaves the possibility that his view could be viewed as undiplomatic or such.

    I wonder (none / 0) (#5)
    by Steve M on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 11:50:11 PM EST
    if the Spanish government will do the diplomatic thing and laugh it off, or if Zapatero is enough of a leftie to harumph a little bit at the neocon I'm sure he would prefer to see lose the election.

    He has already responded to this... (none / 0) (#24)
    by georgeg1011 on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 10:38:11 AM EST
    basically he has said he would work with whichever candidate is elected.  A response that was given that would not play to either side.  he is keeping out of it...which is pretty smart of him

    I saw (none / 0) (#29)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 10:50:21 AM EST
    where he said he would work with the next administration "whatever it is" - either something lost in translation, or a rather delightful turn of phrase.

    Translation of (none / 0) (#40)
    by LatinoVoter on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:09:01 AM EST
    "tenga el color que tenga"

    is "whatever color it is". That raised my eyebrow when I saw that. It must not have the same meaning there as something like that would have here.


    Yeah (none / 0) (#45)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:16:32 AM EST
    maybe the connotation is like "whatever flavor" or something.

    On the Zapatistas (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 12:03:52 AM EST
    I have long been a fan of Subcomandante Marcos (always known as Subcommander Marcos) often including this communique (pdf)  from many years ago when I speak to both lawyer and non-lawyer groups on why criminal defense lawyers do what they do. It always brings a cheer, as well as a tear to the eye.  

    geez, and here i thought (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 03:05:12 AM EST
    zapetero was a drink, made of whiskey and citrus fruits! you learn something new every day.

    Wow (none / 0) (#20)
    by eric on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 08:56:18 AM EST
    TPM now has a link to the whole interview in English.  Absolutely embarrassing.  McCain does not seem to understand that this is Spanish radio, as in, from SPAIN.  He keeps talking about Mexico and Latin America and the Hemisphere even when the reporter tries to ask him about Europe, about Zapatero and Spain.  Absolutely clueless.


    Lucky for McCain.... (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 10:39:51 AM EST
    the American electorate doesn't seem to mind clueless.

    See Bush, George W.

    As long as you'd like to have a beer and some BBQ with the guy, it's all good.


    heh (none / 0) (#30)
    by connecticut yankee on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 10:50:40 AM EST
    Spain, Mexico, whats the difference? It takes the same time to reach either by train.

    S.A. and Mexico.  He fails to understand that Spaniards are Europeans, first and foremost, and consider themselves as such.  This would be akin to a political leader being asked about Americans and then answering about Italians or Irish.

    Incorrect (none / 0) (#54)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:36:57 AM EST
    Radio Caracol is a Columbian outfit.

    My mistake (none / 0) (#65)
    by eric on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:51:37 AM EST
    I guess I was referring to Cadena Ser/Prisa, which is based in Madrid.  That's where it ended up online.  They apparently own a lot of radio.

    According to the recent Wash Post article, the interview "aired Wednesday on Union Radio's 74 Spanish-language radio affiliates nationwide and on its stations in Colombia, Mexico and Spain."


    Just another (none / 0) (#23)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 10:28:50 AM EST
    incident in a line of 'forgetfulness' or senior moments. The prospect of this man as Prez and Sarah Palin as understudy is just plain scary.

    when did they move Spain to south America? (none / 0) (#32)
    by georgeg1011 on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 10:56:08 AM EST
    Just a question...Maybe Palin is more qualified.

    LOL N/T (none / 0) (#34)
    by befuddledvoter on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 10:56:58 AM EST
    I listened to the (none / 0) (#42)
    by votermom on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:11:05 AM EST
    English audio. It really sounds like the interviewer, because of the accent, when she attempts to get a clarification, says "What about you, though? I'm talking about the President (sic) of  Spain." although the text says "What about Europe?..."

    McCain answers, "What about me, what?" which sounds to me like he's misheard her in the same way I did. This was a phone interview, right?

    McCain is punch-drunk (none / 0) (#49)
    by Abbey on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:27:11 AM EST
    If this was a boxing match, his side would be ready to throw in the towel.  

    The entire interview is a travesty (none / 0) (#53)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:35:51 AM EST
    But I want to make a  couple of points, the question of whether McCain would meet the President of SPAIN, a NATO ally, in the White House, is absurd.

    But it is clear McCain had no idea who the reporter was referring to. The name "Zapatero" meant nothing to him. The name "Aznar" would have.  He did not hear her say Spain. Also, he did not understand what the reporter was saying. He did not understand when she said the words "Spain" and "Europe."

    Finally, while Zapatero is indeed referred to as Zapatero in Spain and Latin America - his actual name is Jose Luis RODIRGUEZ Zapatero.

    Zapatero is his second surname, which is used in Spanish.

    No. . . (none / 0) (#56)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:40:43 AM EST
    the question of whether McCain would meet the President of SPAIN, a NATO ally, in the White House, is absurd.

    the fact that the question must be asked, and that the answer might be no -- that's what's absurd.  I assume that's what you meant.

    By "Aznar" I assume you meant the man known to Republicans as "Anzar"?

    And if you ask me, McCain could use a good zapatero -- who can hopefully make one large enough to prevent McCain from putting his foot in his mouth quite so often.


    The question, if understood (none / 0) (#60)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:46:10 AM EST
    by McCain, would have brought a clear yes of course, he is a NATO ally.

    McCain knows Spain is in NATO. It is ridiculous to pretend he does not.

    He simply did not understand the reporter and he had no idea who Zapatero was.

    Did he forget? Is he senile? Believe it or not, those seem the fair questions to me. That he did not know Spain is in NATO is simply impossible. think what you want about McCain, I am POSITIVE he knows Spain is in NATO.

    I am also positive that the name "Zapatero" meant nothing to him in that interview. I am also positive he did not hear the reporter say "Spain" and "Europe."

    He either thought Zapatero was President of some obscure Latin American country or, and I think more likely, he thought the reporter was referring to the Zapatistas.

    I think actually the most personal and, potentially offensive, interpretation is the correct one - McCain is slipping into senility.


    I concur.... (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 12:03:43 PM EST
    and it's not a putdown to those who will spin it that way, or ageism.  It happens to the best of us, it will happen to all of us...no shame at all in it.

    It just means you shouldn't be the leader of the free world with the nuclear football at your hip.  No shame in that either.


    So on the question. . . (none / 0) (#67)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:58:43 AM EST
    of whether McCain is too stupid or too nasty to be President (not, I suppose, that they're mutually exclusive) you come down on the too stupid side?

    Steve M reports elsewhere in the thread that the McCain campaign is claiming that it was a deliberate attempt to snub the Spanish government (they claim McCain understood exactly what question he was responding to).

    Furthermore I think it's naive to imagine that simply being a NATO member is enough to guarantee you admission to the "with us or agin' us" White House.  NATO membership be damned, Zapatero pulled out of OIF membership and apparently burned (or at least snubbed) our flag -- and those issues may amount to more for the Republicans than any "old Europe" NATO talk.


    See my latest post (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 12:00:47 PM EST
    I think he may be senile.

    I find this "senility" argument (none / 0) (#81)
    by rennies on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 09:08:28 PM EST
    outrageous. When Obama makes a gaffe, do we respond with a racist slur?

    I am more used to seeing this kind of view on the inane lefty blogs, not this rational, reasoned, civil forum.

    I am especially astonished  seeing this comment come from BTD, who I greatly admire for his judicious, well grounded arguments.


    A big plus for McCain (none / 0) (#58)
    by vj on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 11:43:39 AM EST
    This should really be a boost for him.   I think most Americans can relate to a guy who doesn't know who the president of Spain is, and would like to have a beer with him.

    Oh come on. (none / 0) (#71)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 12:10:42 PM EST
    I just listened to the interview.

    A) He's in Florida and wants to get every word in he can about topics relevant to FL voters, like, you know, Latin America/Cuba/etc.

    B) Her accent and rapid speech make her very difficult to understand.

    C) He either misunderstood what she was asking about Zapatero ("I talkibow d preside d Spai") or he decides to give the dude a political stiff-arm.

    But, hey, if it suits your agenda...

    See the spin.... (none / 0) (#72)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 12:14:08 PM EST
    coming from the McCain sarc, apparently McCain will not commit to meet with Zapatero.

    WTF????  This is Spain we are talking about.


    I didn't see that, where is it? (none / 0) (#73)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 12:15:47 PM EST
    I'll agree with you that it could (none / 0) (#74)
    by eric on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 12:16:13 PM EST
    be something as simply as mishearing the question and just deciding to give a boiler plate answer.  Fine.

    But how do you explain the fact that, as posted by BTD in a new thread, McCain's people are now telling us that it was NOT a mistake and he really did mean to say that he won't commit to meat with Zapatero?


    For some reason (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by vj on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 12:21:17 PM EST
    From listening to the interview, it's clear to me that he wasn't following the interviewer, and was giving a boiler plate answer.

    His campaign obviously thinks it's better to give the impression that he is belligerent toward Spain than to give the impression that he is not aware of what is going on at all times - even in a case like this where it's perfectly understandable, given that it was a phone interview with someone who had an accent.