"That One" Statement More Rude Than Racist

10/09/2008 11:57 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In an interview broadcast on Larry King on Wednesday night, Michelle Obama stated that Senator John McCain did not personally offend her referring to her candidate husband as "That one."

Good. It is a clear reach to label those words as overtly racist. Even if it truly was intended to be racist, America will need the Obama family, if they do become the true Jackie Robinsons of government, to have a tough enough skin to brush off much worse.

Is that enough to consider the issue dead and gone? Not so fast: the real problem with "that one" is the glimpse it gives us into the potential McCain administration.

McCain's many discordant off-the-cuff remarks-- whether about Chelsea Clinton's looks or the musical rhythmic coincidence of bombing Iran and a Beach Boys song -- shows a clear pattern of inserting a foot into his own mouth. The impact of doing that while serving as our country's mouthpiece could be of Bush-ian proportions.

A president must be able to exhibit not just a modicum of, but an Emily Post-level of etiquette about and to his critics and fellow world leaders. If Sen. McCain cannot present such manners to someone he knows approximately half his voting public not only accepts but also admires, can he be trusted to control himself when it really counts?