COMMENTS: Nasty and Imperfect

Republican Presidential candidate John McCain is taking a weeklong autobiographical tour to recount his personal history as "a way to get him back in the political spotlight," as ABC's Ron Claiborne put it, while the Democratic Party continues to dominate coverage with its prolonged primary season. Monday he was at McCain Field, the Naval Air Station in Meridian Miss, where he was based; Tuesday he returned to Episcopal High School in Alexandria Va, where he was a student, class of 1954; next it will be the Naval Academy at Annapolis, where he was a midshipman.

By all accounts, McCain was a piece of work when he was younger. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell quoted his self-description as "rambunctious" with a "bit of a chip on my shoulder." She heard him "waxing nostalgic about his flaws." On ABC's A Closer Look Claiborne observed that as a schoolboy he was "quick-tempered, earning the nickname McNasty, a reputation that persists to this day." Indeed even now, McCain calls himself a "very imperfect public servant" and he confessed: "In all candor as an adult I have been known to forget, occasionally, the discretion expected of a person of my years and station." Claiborne characterized that contrition as "kinder, gentler."

McCain was even caught in a fib about the nostalgia tour itself. "We were told that this is not a political event," NBC's O'Donnell quoted an Episcopal student asking him, "so what exactly is your purpose in being here?" "I knew I should have cut this thing off," the candidate muttered in response.


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