John McCain says that one of his "life's ambitions is to meet Herman Wouk." Which doesn't sound all that challenging, as goals go. The author of The Winds of War is 93. McCain could probably catch him. But does Herman Wouk want to meet John McCain?
Herman Wouk wrote The Caine Mutiny and created Captain Queeg. So John McCain might get a big kick out of a meeting with Herman Wouk, but the only thing Wouk could get is déjà vu.
Although he was invented more than fifty years ago, Lt. Com. Philip Francis Queeg is a naval officer with a raft of emotional disadvantages that would not be entirely unfamiliar to the men of the Straight Talk Express.
Here, and I haven't changed a word, is a scene from The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. Defense counsel Barney Greenwald is asking Dr. Lundeen, a psychiatrist, a few questions about Queeg's issues.
See if it sounds like any candidate you know.
GREENWALD: Describe Commander Queeg's problems.
LUNDEEN, hesitant: In general, the commander is rather troubled by his short stature, his low standing in his class, and such factors. But the commander is well adjusted to all these things.
"In all candor, as an adult I've been known to forget occasionally the discretion expected of a person of my many years and station when I believe I've been accorded a lack of respect I did not deserve." - John McCain, 5'6"
"Resisting, being uncooperative and a general pain in the ass, proved, as it had in the past, to be a morale booster for me." - John McCain
GREENWALD: Can you describe the nature of the adjustment?
LUNDEEN: Yes, I can. His identity as a naval officer is the essential balancing factor. It's the key to his personal security. Therefore he has a fixed anxiety about protecting his standing. That would account for the harshness and ill temper.
"For much of my life the Navy was the only world I knew. It is still the world I know best and love most." - John McCain
"As a young man, I would respond aggressively and sometimes irresponsibly to anyone who I perceived to have questioned my sense of honor and self-respect. Those responses often got me in a fair amount of trouble earlier in life." -- John McCain
"I acted like a jerk." - John McCain
GREENWALD: Would he be disinclined to admit to mistakes?
LUNDEEN: Yes. Of course there's nothing unbalanced in that.
"I think if you look at the overall record and millions of jobs have been created, et cetera, et cetera, you could make an argument that there's been great progress economically over (the last eight years)." - John McCain 4/17/08
"I think Americans are hurting, and hurting badly. In fact, I think Americans are not better off than they were eight years ago, when you look at what's happened to middle-income Americans." - John McCain 4/18/08
"The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should." - John McCain
"I have far more experience on the economy than Senator Obama. I'm very strong on the economy." - John McCain
GREENWALD: Would he be a perfectionist?
LUNDEEN: Such a personality would be.
"I have regretted losing my temper on many occasions. But there are things worth getting angry about in politics." - John McCain
"At the smallest provocation I would go off into a mad frenzy, and then suddenly crash to the floor unconscious. When I got angry I held my breath until I blacked out." - John McCain
GREENWALD: Suspicious of his subordinates? Inclined to hound them about small details?
LUNDEEN: Any mistake of a subordinate is intolerable because it might endanger him.
"I told you we needed a stage. You incompetent little shit. When I tell you to do something, you do it." - John McCain, to Young Republican campaign volunteer Robert Wexler re: election night dais that made him look short
"I'm so glad you're out of a job, and I'll see to it that you never work again." - John McCain to senate staffer Judy Leiby
"If you don't cooperate on this project you'll be the shortest tenured supervisor in the history of the Forest Service." - John McCain to Jim Abbot, park ranger
"I'll destroy you." - John McCain to Sandra Dowling, Maricopa County school superintendent
GREENWALD: Yet he will not admit mistakes when he makes them himself?
LUNDEEN: You might say he revises reality in his own mind so he comes out blameless.
"There's no doubt in my mind that we will prevail and there's no doubt in my mind, once these people are gone, that we will be welcomed as liberators." - John McCain
"We're going to prevail and we will win and it'll be one of the best things that's happened to America and the world in a long time 'cause it'll reverberate throughout the Middle East." - John McCain
"We're succeeding. I don't care what anybody says. I've seen the facts on the ground." - John McCain
GREENWALD: If criticized from above, would he be inclined to think he was being unjustly persecuted?
LUNDEEN: It's all one pattern, all stemming from one basic premise, that he must try to be perfect.
"We are extremely disappointed to see that the level of objectivity at NBC News has fallen so low that reporters are now giving voice to unsubstantiated, partisan claims in order to undercut John McCain." - John McCain campaign press release
"It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign." - John McCain campaign press release
"The media is in love with Barack Obama." - John McCain campaign e-mail
"You should be ashamed . . . . You should be ashamed." "I don't know if you can understand this, George, but that really hurt. That really hurt." - John McCain to then-Governor George W. Bush
GREENWALD: Would he be inclined to stubbornness?
LUNDEEN: Well, you'll have a certain rigidity of personality in such an individual. The inner insecurity checks him from admitting that those who differ with him may be right.
"Fuck You!" - John McCain to Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) re: illegal immigration
"Asshole!" - John McCain to Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) re: federal budget
"Fucking Jerk!" - John McCain to Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) re: veterans affairs
"Liar!" - John McCain to Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson re: land management
"Fuck you!" - John McCain to cameraman (N. Vietnam) re: request for silence
"You cunt!" - John McCain to Cindy McCain (R-Rx) re: make-up/hair
GREENWALD, suddenly switching from the fumbling manner to clicking preciseness: Doctor, you've testified that the following symptoms exist in the commander's behavior: rigidity of personality, feelings of persecution, unreasonable suspicion, withdrawal from reality, perfectionist anxiety, an unreal basic premise, and an obsessive sense of self-righteousness... Is there an inclusive psychiatric term - one label - for this syndrome?
GREENWALD: Paranoid, doctor?
LUNDEEN: Yes, paranoid.
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