McCain gave an interview, transcript here, this week with a Spanish-language radio station (though the interview was in English) where he seemed to slam a NATO ally. The interviewer, who does have a pretty substantial though still understandable accent, asked him questions about Latin America. McCain responded appropriately if somewhat boringly with the typical responses: "Castro's a jerk!", "Chavez is a commie", et al.
The interviewer then switched (at 2:58 in the linked audio clip) to a question about whether McCain would meet with Spain's Prime Minister, one Mr. Zapatero. McCain seemed to not know who the interviewer was talking about. He gave an apparently unrelated response about working with the Mexican government. There is, apparently, a Mexican rebel group called the zapatistas, so maybe McCain misunderstood what the interviewer was referring to. He gave a response about meeting with friends and standing up to enemies, which would seem to indicate that he might've associated something sounding like Zapatero/Zapatista with Mexico, and wasn't sure exactly how, and decided to just give a vague answer. Which is fine. No criticism there, though it sure would've been great if he'd asked the interviewer to clarify.
So the interviewer, understandably confused by McCain talking about Latin America, and actually using the phrase "Latin America" in his response to a question about Spain, so she clarified, saying "But what about Europe? I'm talking about the President (sic) of Spain." And rather than saying "Oh golly, I'm on a cellphone and misunderstood you before. Oh silly me!", McCain decided to repeat the previous answer, "I am wiling 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."
He seems to be unwilling to state if Zapatero, the leader of a NATO ally, is dedicated to human rights, democracy and freedom. The only reason I can think of for this is that he couldn't bring himself to admit he had misheard the question, cuz that would look, ya know, weak and stuff.
Even hours after the fact, when asked just what McCain was trying to say about one of our allies, McCain's top foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, said in an e-mail that McCain was just "keeping his options open." Really? You'd rather piss off an ally by saying you might not meet with them than admit you made a mistake in mishearing a substantially-accented question? Who could be so concerned with image over alliances? Hmmm....
In case you're wondering, yes, I am looking for any excuse to use this picture. I just love it. It's the wallpaper on my desktop.