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    July 24, 2008

    McCain's neurons

    Posted by: Andoni

    Mccain I could write this piece based on my MD degree ..... or based on my personal experience as someone who has cared for 2 aging parents and 3 aging grandparents over the past 40 years. I'll use the latter experience as the basis for what I write.

    I am concerned about Senator John McCain's mental ability to perform well as president. Anyone can make a gaffe or mis-speak. However, there have been a string of errors from McCain recently that indicate to me that his neurons aren't firing quite optimally. He makes mistakes and doesn't realize it and repeats them over and over again. This is the same pattern of confusion and mis-speak I observed in my parents and grandparents as they aged and their brains began to fail.

    Let's look at some examples of McCain's poor performance. There are the times he kept confusing Shiite and Sunni during his last visit to the Middle East. Then last week he spoke of the Iraq/Pakistan border, a border which does not exist. Another example of McCain not being able to handle the finer points of what's happening in the Middle East is his incorrect recollection of the major events associated with the Surge.

    Finally, there is Czechoslovakia. McCain referred to this country at least 4 times over the past few months. The problem is that this country stopped existing 15 years ago. This example best illustrates McCain's neuron problem. It is my observation that as people age and their brain stops working well, one of the first things to go is the ability to incorporate new information into their mental database and use it properly. Is this what we want in a president?

    I know what I'm writing is not politically correct.

    The McCain campaign insists that Senator Barack Obama must pass the commander-in-chief test. I think Obama has successfully done that on this recent trip to the war zones, the Middle East, and Europe.

    I would argue that what Senator McCain has to prove between now and November is that he can pass the "my neurons are firing properly" test.



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    1. stevew on Jul 24, 2008 4:17:46 PM:

      Regarding repeating, check out this humdinger:

      "I disagree. I disagree with the experts. I disagree. I disagree. I disagree with the experts. I have experts of my own. I have many experts of my own who say that this will stimulate the economy, will create jobs, and increase revenues over time."

      as reported by ThinkProgress in April.

    1. L. Wieseltier on Jul 24, 2008 4:42:33 PM:

      You must have got your diploma from a correspondence course. Just take a look at a few Obama examples from recent month; the guy’s a perpetual gaffe machine. Let us count the ways, large and small, that his tongue has betrayed him throughout the campaign:

      Last May, he claimed that tornadoes in Kansas killed a whopping 10,000 people: “In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died — an entire town destroyed.” The actual death toll: 12.

      A few months earlier in Oregon, he redrew the map of the United States: “Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go.”

      In front of a roaring Sioux Falls, S.D., audience, Obama exulted: “Thank you, Sioux City. ... I said it wrong. I’ve been in Iowa for too long. I’m sorry.”

      Explaining in April why he was trailing Hillary Clinton in Kentucky, Obama again botched basic geography: “Sen. Clinton, I think, is much better known, coming from a nearby state of Arkansas. So it’s not surprising that she would have an advantage in some of those states in the middle.” On what map is Arkansas closer to Kentucky than Illinois?

      Obama has as much trouble with numbers as he has with maps. Last March, on the anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Ala., he claimed his parents united as a direct result of the civil rights movement: “There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Ala., because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born.”

      Obama was born in 1961. The Selma march took place in 1965. His spokesman, Bill Burton, later explained that Obama was “speaking metaphorically about the civil-rights movement as a whole.”

      While in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Obama showed off his knowledge of the war in Afghanistan by homing in on a lack of translators: “We only have a certain number of them, and if they are all in Iraq, then it’s harder for us to use them in Afghanistan.” The real reason it’s “harder for us to use them” in Afghanistan: Iraqis speak Arabic or Kurdish. The Afghanis speak Pashto, Farsi, or other non-Arabic languages.

      While speaking in Oregon, Obama pleaded ignorance of the decades-old, multibillion-dollar massive Hanford nuclear-waste cleanup: “Here’s something that you will rarely hear from a politician, and that is that I’m not familiar with the Hanford, uuuuhh, site, so I don’t know exactly what’s going on there. (Applause.) Now, having said that, I promise you I’ll learn about it by the time I leave here on the ride back to the airport.”

      I assume on that ride, a staffer reminded him that he’s voted on at least one defense-authorization bill that addressed the “costs, schedules, and technical issues” dealing with the nation’s most contaminated nuclear-waste site.

      Last March, the Chicago Tribune reported this little-noticed nugget about a fake autobiographical detail in Obama’s Dreams from My Father: “Then, there’s the copy of Life magazine that Obama presents as his racial awakening at age 9. In it, he wrote, was an article and two accompanying photographs of an African-American man physically and mentally scarred by his efforts to lighten his skin. In fact, the Life article and the photographs don’t exist, say the magazine’s own historians.”

      And in perhaps the most seriously troubling set of gaffes of them all, Obama told a Portland crowd that Iran doesn’t “pose a serious threat to us” — cluelessly arguing that “tiny countries” with small defense budgets can’t do us harm — and then promptly flip-flopped the next day, claiming, “I’ve made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave.”

      Just yesterday, he claimed to serve on the Senate Banking Committee, a committee he has never served on, naturally.

      Barack Obama — promoted by the Left and the media as an all-knowing, articulate, transcendent Messiah — is a walking, talking gaffe machine. How many more passes does he get? How many more can we afford? Maybe Obama is the one whose mental synapses are flakky and falling apart.

    1. stevew on Jul 24, 2008 6:58:23 PM:

      L. Wieseltier sure does get around. A little Googling shows that same post on multiple message boards. How many POINTS do you get for that?

    1. Andoni on Jul 24, 2008 9:15:35 PM:

      Well, another blooper from McCain. In a response to Obama's speech in Berlin, McCain called Iraq the first major conflict post 9-11, forgetting about Afghanistan. At the time of the invasion of Afghanistan, I can assure you that it was considered a major conflict...a major operation.

      This illustrates another point of when people are starting to lose their neurons. They tend to focus or fixate on one thing or event, remember only that one thing and tune out or miss the bigger picture or equally important concurrent events.

    1. ksu499 on Jul 25, 2008 8:22:04 AM:

      Czechoslovakia. Isn't that that far-away country populated by people of whom we know nothing?

    1. Kary on Jul 25, 2008 11:38:32 AM:

      Dear Chris:

      The inability to incorporate new information is a symptom of Republicanism.


    1. Hawyer on Jul 25, 2008 12:31:14 PM:

      Notwithstanding the incidents of fatigued-based slip-ups (Gawd, I'd hate to think what I might say with a microphone stuck in my face every waking moment) --- I totally concur with your assessment of McCain's mental acuity.

      I lived through two terms of Ronald Reagan - who by point of fact - suffered moderate to severe Alzheimers-related dementia for most of his second term - to the extent that he frequently confused his Hollywood roles with real-life tableaus.

    1. Andy on Jul 26, 2008 12:20:01 PM:

      I'm not really seeing this as an age issue; I, too, am regularly around elderly people who are starting to "go." It's not so much that they MISremember things, they just forget. It's the short-term memory, especially, that is problematic. McCain is able to make rather longwinded explanations (for example) on why "the surge" that he's talking about isn't really "the surge" that everyone else knows about. Apart from the content, his statements are at least structurally coherent. Not so with elderly people who often can't even get to the end of a long sentence without losing their train of thought, or following up one sentence with a complete non-sequitur. No, I'm afraid that McCain actually just doesn't really know what he's talking about. He is extremely knowledgeable about the right-wing myth of Iraq, but he hasn't a clue what's really happening there. Or anywhere.

      It's kind of like Senor Wieseltier above; he (I assume) loudly proclaims that Obama is "promoted by the Left and the media as an all-knowing, articulate, transcendent Messiah." Ummm...I don't know anyone who feels that way about Obama. I have been a passionate supporter ever since he appeared on the national stage back in 2004. No one thinks he's perfect. But he's not George W. Bush, he's not John McCain, and he's not Hillary Clinton. So far, so good.

    1. MauraHennessey on Jul 27, 2008 9:42:37 PM:

      I have a concern with his neurons as well, particularly his referencing nations that no longer exist. I am fully expecting a statement from his arguing for the necessity of a missile shield to protect the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the Czar...

    1. Tim on Jul 28, 2008 11:53:09 AM:

      blah here in the 57th state we often throw our old people under buses before they get this old. I think it's a shame when people who don't use teleprompter's try to compete as if were an even playing field. I think it's even funnier when people who speak of nothing but, "hope" are judged as being factually more accurate because they said nothing at all rather than made a mistake with their facts.

    1. PSUdain on Jul 29, 2008 3:56:08 AM:

      I'm sorry, but stick a microphone in anyone's face practically nonstop and you would catch plenty of dumb spoken errors exactly like these.

      Hell, sit around with my two roommates and I for a night when the TV is on and we're B.S.ing. You'll find out all kinds of things. Like that "auf wiedersehen" is French, apparently. That the Typhoon class sub was Soviet, not American. That he actually meant "I" when he said "they". That she asked "What is a polygon" and added up 7 and 6 to get 42. That I managed to get a barely coherent sentence out that was syntactically correct, but had no real meaning. And that's just one night.

      Gosh, we four college students must be showing our age, too.

      Isn't this a bit low?

    1. Andoni on Jul 29, 2008 12:45:00 PM:

      Sorry, PSUdain, I don't buy this at all. By your own admission you were bullshitting with your roomates ..... and on a wide range of topics ranging from math to foreign languages to military weapons. You don't pretend to pass yourselves off as experts on any of these topics. You were simply very superficially bullshitting.

      McCain's errors would be the equivalent of you claiming to be a chemistry major or an expert in chemistry, but then you proceed to make a series of stupid statements such as:
      1. you confuse the halogens and the inert elements (Sunnis and Shiites), calling fluorine an inert element and group it with helium
      2. you claim that oxygen sits right next to neon in the periodic table (Pakistan-Iraq border)
      3. you keep referring to the element kryptonite, which unfortunately does not exist (Czechoslovakia).
      4. finally, if you mix up the order of discovery of the man made elements and tell me that californium was made before technetium (the order of Sunni awakening with respect to the Surge).

      If you claimed to have expertise in chemistry and made the above stupid mistakes, I would say you did not deserve your diploma or your brain was starting to fail.

      Your examples are of pure bullshitting around a dorm room and yes in that arena, mistakes are tolerated, plentiful and to be expected.

      Andoni, in Bangkok

    1. Tim C on Jul 29, 2008 1:18:11 PM:

      I'm not going to paint with a broad brush that anyone over 65 is losing it. We now know that the brain does continue to produce new cells during a person's life and that these neurons quickly become involved in the formation of new memories. My grandfather was running the family farm into his 80s and until the Parkinson's hit my dad hard at age 83, I would have put him up against any 40 year-old. How we age is very individualized and has a lot to do with heredity and how mentally and physically active one stays. Have you seen McCain's mother? Seriously, you put enough microphones in front of someone for a long enough period of time, you're going to get gaffes.

      Now, do I believe that McCain will probably be, if elected, a single-term President? Yes, because also at his age, statistically, things can turn quickly and it is undeniable that the Presidency does age one. McCain's choice of Veep will be more important, IMO, than Obama's. But, if on my position scorecard, McCain comes out ahead of Obama, I am not going to let age turn me away.

    1. Brian Miller on Aug 4, 2008 12:36:25 AM:

      The original article is as lame an effort to play on stereotypes as Republicans asking "does Barack Obama's Muslim connection mean he'll compromise security to help his friends if they're involved with al Qaeda?"

      It's "analysis" mostly designed to play on stereotypes.

    1. Joefucious on Oct 7, 2008 3:21:01 PM:

      Nice response Adoni.

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