Read these pieces on McCain's temper and health care plan

I’ve mentioned before that it’s scandalous for the Washington press corps to cover for John McCain’s legendary anger management problem after the way they collaborated in making Howard Dean and Al Gore look angry and unstable.

Washington Post reporter Michael Leahy wrote this long article on McCain’s temperament for the paper’s Sunday edition. Read the whole thing. It begins with an anecdote about McCain blowing up at Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley in 1992, and Republicans who know McCain share many other stories as well.

One of the most appalling discusses McCain’s behavior after an election-night victory party for Arizona Republicans in 1986:

After McCain finished his speech, he returned to a suite in the hotel, sat down in front of a TV and viewed a replay of his remarks, angry to discover that the speaking platform had not been erected high enough for television cameras to capture all of his face — he seemed to have been cut off somewhere between his nose and mouth.

A platform that had been adequate for taller candidates had not taken into account the needs of the 5-foot-9 McCain, who left the suite and went looking for a man in his early 20s named Robert Wexler, the head of Arizona’s Young Republicans, which had helped make arrangements for the evening’s celebration. Confronting Wexler in a hotel ballroom, McCain exploded, according to witnesses who included Jon Hinz, then executive director of the Arizona Republican Party. McCain jabbed an index finger in Wexler’s chest.

“I told you we needed a stage,” he screamed, according to Hinz. “You incompetent little [expletive]. When I tell you to do something, you do it.”

Hinz recalls intervening, placing his 6-foot-6 frame between the senator-elect and the young volunteer. “John, this is not the time or place for this,” Hinz remembers saying to McCain, who fumed that he hadn’t been seen clearly by television viewers. Hinz recollects finally telling McCain: “John, look, I’ll follow you out on stage myself next time. I’ll make sure everywhere you go there is a milk crate for you to stand on. But this is enough.”

McCain spun around on his heels and left. He did not talk to Hinz again for several years. In 2000, as Hinz recalls, he appeared briefly on the Christian Broadcasting Network to voice his worries about McCain’s temperament on televangelist Pat Robertson’s show, “The 700 Club.” Hinz’s concerns have since grown with reports of incidents in and out of Arizona.

We need to educate Americans who think McCain is a reasonable moderate about this side of his personality.

Also worth reading is Elizabeth Edwards’ latest blog post on McCain’s inadequate health care plan.

After she criticized his plan this month, McCain went on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos to call her criticism a “cheap shot.” Elizabeth Edwards had noted that McCain benefited from government health care coverage his whole life, but McCain pointed out that he didn’t have access to good health care while he was a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam.

If McCain was hoping she would feel too bad to respond, he’s out of luck. She points out some important facts:

Sen. McCain noted that he was not receiving government health care for the six years he was in captivity. That is true. But it has nothing to do with my point – which is that the problem with Sen. McCain’s health care plan is not how it affects us — but how it affects the tens of millions of Americans with preexisting conditions who, unlike Sen. McCain and myself, do not have the resources to pay for quality health care.

That is not a cheap shot, it is a potentially life and death question for tens of million of Americans. And it is a question Sen. McCain must address.

McCain’s health care plan is centered around the idea that we’d be better off if more Americans bought health coverage on their own, rather than receiving it through a job or government program. But maybe since he has never purchased insurance in the individual market, he does not know the challenge it presents for Americans with preexisting conditions.

A recent study showed that nearly nine out of every ten people seeking individual coverage on the private insurance market never got it. Insurers will disqualify you for just taking certain medicines because of the possibility of future costs, including common drugs as Lipitor, Zocor, Nexium, and Advair. People who have had cancer are denied coverage and those who get cancer run the risk of simply being dropped by their insurer for any excuse that can be found. And insurers make it a practice to deny coverage to individuals in high risk occupations, such as firefighting, lumber work, telecom installation, and pretty much anything more risky than working in an office.

Read her whole post. She also has a go at McCain’s strange suggestion that he might create a “special Medicaid trust fund” to help cover people with preexisting conditions.

We should go after McCain now–not wait for the Democratic nomination to be settled.

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