REAL RAGE. Far...

REAL RAGE. Far be it from me -- very far be it from me, Moons Of Freaking Neptune be it from me -- to be perceived as defending NewsMax, but I think Ezra's a little glib in dismissing the story about John McCain's temper. It is a very real, and very startling, and very important part of his personality and, unless the campaign press corps spends more time in the tank than Shamu, it's going to be an ongoing story in the 2008 campaign. In 1998, I wrote a long profile on the senator for Esquire, and his volatility was very much an issue ever then, particularly with people back in Arizona.

More than a few local journalists -- most notably, Ed Montini of the Arizona Republic -- have written about being on the receiving end of tirades from the senator that were considerably out of proportion to whatever perceived slight prompted them. People have treated the matter gingerly, in large part because nobody wants to contribute to the baseless old Rovian smear about McCain's stability. Let us leave the long-distance psychoanalyzing to Krauthammerian goons and posit that, politically, the issue most often manifests itself in a tendency for the senator to over-react to what really are simply fundamental political disagreements. Back in February, you will recall, McCain wrote a disproportionately intemperate letter to Senator Barack Obama in the middle of negotiations regarding lobbying reform. Now that he is the consensus frontrunner for the GOP nomination, and already the consensus winner of the election as president of the United States Of Pundits, it will be interesting to see how well McCain suffers the notion that other people might want the actual presidency enough to disagree with him.

--Charles P. Pierce

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