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Sunday, April 20, 2008

McCain: A Question of Temperament

By Michael Leahy, Washington Post

.....Since the beginning of McCain's public life, the many witnesses to his temper have had strikingly different reactions to it. Some depict McCain, now the presumptive Republican nominee for president, as an erratic hothead incapable of staying cool in the face of what he views as either disloyalty to him or irrational opposition to his ideas. Others praise a firebrand who is resolute against the forces of greed and gutlessness.

"Does he get angry? Yes," said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who supports McCain's presidential bid. "But it's never been enough to blur his judgment. . . . If anything, his passion and occasional bursts of anger have made him more effective."

Former senator Bob Smith, a New Hampshire Republican, expresses worries about McCain: "His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him."

A spokesman for McCain's campaign said he would be unavailable for an interview on the subject of his temper. But over the years, no one has written more intimately about McCain's outbursts than McCain himself. "My temper has often been both a matter of public speculation and personal concern," he wrote in a 2002 memoir. "I have a temper, to state the obvious, which I have tried to control with varying degrees of success because it does not always serve my interest or the public's."

That temper has followed him throughout his life, McCain acknowledges. He recalls in his writings how, as a toddler, he sometimes held his breath and fainted during moments of fury. As the son of a naval officer who was on his way to becoming a four-star admiral, McCain found himself frequently uprooted and enrolled in new schools, where, as an underappreciated outsider, he developed "a little bit of a chip on my shoulder," as he recalled this month....

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