McCain thinks the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia was "the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War." He thinks Iraq and Pakistan share a border. He believes Czechoslovakia is still a country. He’s been confused about the difference between Sudan and Somalia. He’s been confused about whether he wants more U.S. troops in Afghanistan, more NATO troops in Afghanistan, or both. He’s been confused about how many U.S. troops are in Iraq. He's been confused about whether the U.S. can maintain a long-term presence in Iraq. He’s been confused about Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda. He's been confused about the difference between Sunni and Shi'ia. McCain, following a recent trip to Germany, even referred to "President Putin of Germany." All of this incoherence on his signature issue.

The Washington Monthly.

Here’s the thing. Any of those individually is just a slip. Put together they could still just be one (or 11) of those things. But what if they’re not? What if McCain really is fading away, something that wouldn’t be too surprising for any 72 year old? At what point would the Republicans (or Democrats, in a similar situation) say “You know what, our candidate was a brilliant man, but time has passed and it’s become clear that he’s just not up to the job”? My guess is no earlier than November 8th.

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McCain’s confusion

Here’s the audio of McCain missing the point.

“But what about Europe? I’m talking about the President of Spain.”

McCain: “What about me, what?

Interviewer: “Are you willing to meet with him if you’re elected president?”

McCain: “I am willing to meet with any leader who is dedicated to the same principles and philosophy that we are for humans rights, democracy and freedom. And I will stand up to those who do not.”

Update: To clarify, Spain *is* for human rights, democracy and freedom. So that’s OK then.

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John McCain just forget where Spain was. Seriously, not kidding.

Basically McCain *appears* to confuse Zapatero, the President of Spain, with Zapatista, a rebel group in Mexico. I can kind of understand that; certainly when I saw the name Zapatero it made me think of the rebel group, even though I couldn’t quite place the name. That may be a sign of getting older, but it’s a trivial one. But when he knows he’s going into an interview with a Spanish interviewer (whether Latina-American or European), and still can’t catch on when told that Zapatero is the President of Spain, in Europe? That’s just unsettling, whatever party the guy belongs to.

Bumped. This is a very important story.

(UPDATE: I now have the Spanish version of the interview cropped to the 1 minute 37 seconds in question. You can listen to it here, but it’s in Spanish.)

This isn’t funny. It’s actually quite serious. We may have the first evidence, on tape, that McCain’s age, or illness, or both are catching up with him and he’s losing his mental faculties.

Per a post on Josh Marshall’s site, I just listened to an interview John McCain did with a Spanish journalist recently. The interview is in English, but there’s a Spanish translator translating the tape into Spanish at the same time. So the English part is difficult to hear. I am however fluent in Spanish, and what Josh reports is exactly what the Spanish version shows.

Namely, that John McCain didn’t appear to know that Spain was in Europe, or that the leader of Spain was named Zapatero, even after he was told that Zapatero was the leader of Spain.

When asked about Spain and Zapatero, by a Spanish reporter for a Spanish newspaper, McCain responded about Mexico and Latin America. A reader suggested something that Josh had already considered, that perhaps McCain thought the reporter was talking about the Zapatistas in Mexico, the guerilla group. But that’s not possible as the reporter clearly said she was talking about Spain and Spain’s leader, Zapatero. She told McCain this twice. Let me tell you exactly what she asked McCain (per the translation):

“Senator, finally, let’s talk about Spain. If you’re elected president, would you invite President Zapatero to meet with you in the White House?”

McCain then gives this odd answer about America’s friends and America’s enemies. He also, oddly, talks about Mexico (why Mexico? The question was about Spain) and how he’d invite friendly leaders to the White House. She then asks him again, would that invitation include President Zapatero? He says again that he’d have to review relations first, blah blah. She then says again, “so you’d have to wait to see, so would you meet with him in the White House?” He again repeats his weird statement about friends and enemies. McCain also throws in, oddly, to the Spanish reporter, when she’s asking him about meeting the Spanish president, a line about the importance of our relationship with Latin America (this is now the second time he answered a question about meeting the president of Spain with an answer about Latin America). She then says to McCain one last time:

“Okay, but I’m talking about Europe – the president of Spain, would you meet with him?”

This time, there was no room for confusion. McCain then gives this very bizarre answer:

“I will meet with any leader who has the same principles and philosophy as us in terms of human rights, democracy, and freedom and I will stand up to those who do not.”

What does concern about human rights, democracy and freedom have to do with a prerequisite for meeting the president of Spain? Especially when you told the same paper 5 months ago that you’d be happy to meet with him.

McCain had no idea what was going on in the interview. She specifically told him, twice, that she was talking about Spain and the Spanish president. She’s a Spanish reporter with one of the largest, if not the largest, newspaper in Spain, El Pais. I know this paper, McCain certainly knows this paper (and it’s not like McCain’s staff didn’t tell him who he had the exclusive interview with for ten minutes). She made it clear she was asking about her own country and her own president and Mccain had no clue what she was talking about.

Either McCain had no idea what the woman was talking about when she said “Spain,” and then said “the President of Spain,” repeatedly, or McCain intentionally snubbed the country of Spain tonight for no apparent reason, which is very hard to believe, especially given his earlier interview in which he said he was fine meeting Zapatero. The interview is absolutely bizarre, especially in that it sounds like McCain wasn’t even lucid, it sounds like he simply doesn’t have complete control over his faculties anymore. And judging by the fact that just a few months ago McCain was fine with Zapatero, it sounds like McCain simply wasn’t quite all there any more during the interview. He got horribly confused and didn’t know what was going on.

This is just incredibly disturbing. And remember, this is hardly the first time in the last year that McCain has become confused about his signature issue, foreign affairs. It’s happened a lot in the past year, and it never happened before. There’s a pattern here, even if in polite company the media isn’t supposed to talk about. McCain is having trouble focusing and understanding what’s going on around him. He gets increasingly confused. And that’s just scary.

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That was easy

We have quite strong* finance rules in the UK that mean you need to prove who you are when opening accounts, or making changes to certain old accounts. Thus when I asked Equitable Life to change my address they sent me a form asking for my passport, one of my children, etc. Being fundamentally lazy I couldn’t be bothered, and ignored repeated follow-ups asking for at least a toe-nail clipping or a smidgin of sputum.

Unfortunately it turns out that I did need to change my address, so that I could move my money from them to a pension company that can count**. My new company gave me a phone number and my policy number, and after a 2 minute phone call my details are updated. I can’t decide if this is a good or bad thing.

*by which I mean difficult, rather than effective

**Equitable Life essentially went bankrupt by promising guaranteed returns they had no ability to match, ending more than two centuries of sensible yet effective money management.