Opinion: John McCain thinks Spain is a rogue state in South America


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John McCain (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Enough worrying about Sarah Palin’s foreign policy expertise, time to return to John McCain’s.

The Spanish press -- in Spain, on the Iberian Peninsula, east of Portugal and south of France -- is having a field day over a Cadena SER radio interview in which the senator seems to confuse Spain’s prime minister with a strongman in Latin America.


In the beginning of the interview, McCain discusses how he would not sit down with presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela or Evo Morales of Bolivia and certainly not with Raul Castro. Standard fare. The interviewer then says, “Let’s shift to Spain, would you invite President [Jose Luis Rodriguez] Zapatero to meet with you in the White House?” This is a big deal for Spaniards; Zapatero never received such an invitation from President George Bush. At first McCcain gives a vague answer about how he’ll work with anyone who cooperates withe U.S. but is determined to stand firm against our enemies. When pressed again, he makes no promises but notes ‘the importance of ‘our relationship with Latin America.’

Perplexed, the interview blurts out ‘But I’m talking about Europe. About Spain!’ Even then, McCain indeed does stand firm. He never giving a clue that he acutally knows who Zapatero is. He speaks in English and a Spanish translater is speaking over him so I’ll translate back to English: He’ll be friends with our friends and stand firm against those who oppose us.’

Zapata (Wikipedia)

Zapatero (PEDRO ARMESTRE/ AFP /Getty Images)

The Spanish press is of several minds: It’s possible McCain, who in April said he would be pleased to meet with Zapatero, forgot the Prime Minister’s name. Or maybe, because of all the previous talk about Latin American leaders he confused Zapatero with Zapatista? Does he really thinks Spain is a troublesome country somewhere in the Andes? Others wonder if the Republican candidate is still sore about Spain pulling its troops out of Iraq. When told of McCain’s refusal to invite him to the White House, Zapatero brushed it off, saying he’ll work with whichever man gets elected. Then he stumbled into what would be a gaffe here in the U.S., by graciously adding: ‘tenga el color que tenga’ meaning, ‘whatever his color.’