This little headline may have gotten lost among all the other John McCain headlines yesterday:
McCain denies roughing up Sandinista
Is it just me, or is that the headline equivalent of "When did you stop beating your wife?"
The story, first reported in the Sun Herald, a coastal Mississippi newspaper, goes like this: Senator Thad Cochran, a Mississippi Republican, claims that he witnessed a confrontation between McCain and a Sandinista while on a diplomatic mission to Nicaragua back in 1987.
Here's what Senator Cochran told the Sun-Herald:
McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerrilla group here at this end of the table and I don't know what attracted my attention. But I saw some kind of quick movement at the bottom of the table and I looked down there and John had reached over and grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever. I don't know what he was telling him but I thought, good grief, everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission. I don't know what had happened to provoke John but he obviously got mad at the guy and he just reached over there and snatched him.
Senator McCain responded to the story at a news conference yesterday by saying, "I had many, many meetings with the Sandinistas. I must say, I did not admire the Sandinistas much. But there was never anything of that nature. It just didn't happen."
Senator Cochran, who once famously expressed his worry about a McCain presidency by calling him "erratic" and "hotheaded," has apparently changed his mind about McCain, though it's hard to tell from this latest anecdote. A spokesperson for the senator says "he wanted to make the point that over the years he has seen Sen. McCain mature into an individual who is not only spirited and tenacious but also thoughtful and levelheaded."
Which, if you read the headlines, maybe didn't work. Here is a smattering of how some news outlets headed the story: McCain's meltdown, McCain's Temper Tantrum Tawdriness (okay, that one is by a blogger), and my personal favorite, "Did McCain really perform the Sandinista snatch?"