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Spain’s media in uproar over McCain’s comments regarding Prime Minister Zapatero

LatinaLista — One of the many criticisms levied by the McCain campaign against Barack Obama has been his lack of foreign policy experience. To make that point, Sen. McCain went on a whirlwind trip this past summer to Mexico and Colombia to prove he has a handle on what’s happening south of our border and that he knows the leaders of South America.

Spain’s Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
Yet before Sen. McCain boasts too loudly, it would be nice if he got briefed on which countries actually were in South America and who their leaders are. In a radio interview that is sweeping the airwaves and headlines of Spain, Europe and South America, McCain came across as less of a candidate who has a handle on foreign policy and more like a clueless politician sticking to his campaign’s playbook on how to answer questions about foreign policy.
The now infamous interview was with reporter Yoli Cuello of Radio Caracol Miami for exclusive broadcast by Union Radio stations. What happened in the interview sent shockwaves throughout Spain almost immediately because in the interview when Cuello asks McCain if he would meet with Spain’s Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, McCain totally evaded the question implying that Spain isn’t a friend of the United States.

In the interview, which has been written about, posted and rebroadcast throughout Spanish-speaking countries now, McCain’s reluctance to commit to meeting with José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain’s Prime Minister can lead us to only one conclusion — he didn’t know who José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was.
Even if we give the benefit of the doubt to McCain and make excuses for him — the reporter had a heavy Spanish accent, the questions leading up to the one about Spain’s Prime Minister dealt with Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba and Zapatero does sound like zapatistas to an untrained ear — it doesn’t erase the fact that the reporter clarified to McCain that she was talking about Spain and Europe.
The “oh sh!t” moment for McCain could be heard in that very pregnant pause once he realized his mistake. But since Presidential candidates are never wrong, rather than admit he got confused, he belabored the same theme.
What’s interesting is that McCain has more in common with Zapatero than he realizes. Zapatero’s administration has come under fire for cracking down on undocumented workers and supporting the European Union’s new “Return Directive” which will go into effect in 2010 and allows for the jailing of undocumented migrants for up to 18 months while awaiting deportation.
In the Republican playbook, Zapatero should be a great ally.
Yet, because Sen. McCain knows the leaders of foreign countries, as he says he does, Zapatero and Spain must be viewed in a cautious light with further evaluation before Zapatero would be invited to the White House under McCain’s watch.
To his credit, Zapatero is downplaying McCain’s remarks and chalking it up to the “election process.” However, Spanish pride being what it is, the people and media of Spain aren’t letting this obvious goof-up pass quietly.
The distributor of the interview, CADENA SER and have erected a web site page addressing the global outcry to McCain’s interview.
On the page, they say that in the hours after the interview aired, their site received an unusual increase in site visits and that the major media outlets in Spain, along with digital media, blogs and even TIME magazine, have commented on this interview.
Because of all the attention, has posted the original interview with McCain in English, the translated interview and an interview with the reporter (in Spanish) on their site. The following audio is the English interview with McCain and the interview conducted with the reporter by Spanish media who wanted her personal perspective on McCain’s answers.
While some people may dismiss the fuss over McCain’s mistake, it nonetheless reflects badly on a candidate who at every turn touts his own foreign policy knowledge over his opponent’s. Sometimes it’s better to just quit reminding people how much better you are than the competition because it always has a way to come back and bite you where it hurts.
McCain’s Interview with Caracol Miami
Interview with Caracol Miami reporter Yoli Cuello (Spanish)

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  • Evelyn
    September 18, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    What Privileges Do McCain and Palin Receive Because They’re White?
    By Tim Wise, BuzzFlash. Posted September 18, 2008.
    13 ways McCain and Palin have enjoyed preferential treatment in the presidential race.
    For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.
    White privilege is when you can get pregnant at 17 like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.
    White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.
    White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.
    White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-size colleges, and then governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. senator, two-term state senator and constitutional law scholar means you’re “untested.”
    White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office — since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s — while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school, requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.
    White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.
    White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you’re black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.
    White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do — like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the eight-hour workday, or an end to child labor — and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small-town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college — you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.
    White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women and made them give your party a “second look.”
    White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.
    White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the United States is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good churchgoing Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.
    White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then having people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.
    White privilege is being able to claim that your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it, a “light” burden.
    And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising and the United States is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.
    White privilege is, in short, the problem.
    The following are some of the comments accompanying this article.
    It’s OK for John McCain to be a notorious hothead because he’s a “maverick” and ex-jet jockey. But if Obama gets even slightly upset, he’s an angry and potentially violent Black radical who hates America–especially Whitey.
    And how about McCain and the ugly divorce and quick remarriage to someone almost a generation younger than him?
    God forbid, imagine if Michelle had been in an accident, and Obama dumped her and married a rich, 20-something heiress? What would the media call him?
    Another example of white privilege that the author does not include is the Cindy McCain drug addiction, prescription-falsifying, drug stealing scandal. Imagine if Michelle Obama had in her past been addicted to drugs, forced a doctor to write her fake prescriptions, and stolen the drugs from a supposed charity she was running. We would NEVER have heard the end of it from the hate-mongers, including the similarly drug-addicted idiot, Rush Limbaugh. It would have been enough to insure that there was no Obama presidential campaign. But because it happened to a rich, blond, white heiress, it’s all excusable by the “emotional pain” she was experiencing because her husband, John, was trying to defend himself on ethics charges in the Keating Five scandal.
    So while African-Americans have come far, there is still inequality in treatment between the races! Daily since Sarah Palin has been put on the ticket, no real substantive questions have been really asked or answered! Both her and McShame have been treated with kid gloves, yet the Obama campaign is not given such deferential treatment, why is that? Yet no one wants to discuss not just the elephant in the room (race), but the double standard that that affords to the other side! No America, this country really needs to have an honest discussion about race, but “White Americans” first must confront the privileges that they receive daily!
    The vast majority of us in Europe are appalled that the one man who could bring real change cleaning up the worldwide G W Bush mess in warfare and finance, could well lose this election for the one reason that he is half ‘Caucasian’ (as you Americans put it) and half African. Had he been ‘white’ his ratings would be around, say, 60% – a sure victor.
    Yes, we too, have quite enough racism in Europe but, for example, even in the 1960s the president of the French Assembly was a person of colour.
    And today, by a huge majority we Europeans would vote for Senator Obama – not because we are ‘Obamamaniacs’ as some of your American media dub us, but because we see in this brilliant, well informed, well organised man who opposed the Iraq war (whose military and financial consequences have severely damaged not only the US but our European position in the world) the one person who could indeed turn the page.
    From his clearly stated policies, he could indeed lead the world away from the Bush era of sterile confrontation to a new era – made possible by the end of the Cold War – of international cooperation to face the grim challenges not just for the US but for every country. Indeed for humanity. (For more see our website

  • laura
    September 18, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    If this weren’t pathetic, it would be really funny – John McCain: Zapatista , Zapatero, same difference.
    The pathetic and scary thing is that this candidate is advertised as having foreign policy experience and being a capable potential commander-in-chief. And voters believe it: they think John McCain knows about foreign countries and people, and would be a good commander-in-chief.
    That is the really scary thing.

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