At a bipartisan gathering in an ornate meeting room just off the Senate floor, McCain complained that Cornyn was raising petty objections to a compromise plan being worked out between Senate Republicans and Democrats and the White House. He used a curse word associated with chickens and accused Cornyn of raising the issue just to torpedo a deal."A curse word associated with chickens"? Really, avoiding the actually language is so... chickenshit. But enough about WaPo, let's talk about McCain.
Things got really heated when Cornyn accused McCain of being too busy campaigning for president to take part in the negotiations, which have gone on for months behind closed doors. "Wait a second here," Cornyn said to McCain. "I've been sitting in here for all of these negotiations and you just parachute in here on the last day. You're out of line."...
"[Expletive] you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room," shouted McCain at Cornyn.
I have no problem with political characters saying "f*ck you" to each other behind the scenes. I almost think they'd be chickenshit not to. It's normal in tough, competitive situations. I remember when people were surprised by all the cursing on the Nixon White House transcripts, but that was a long time ago, and the fact is, it was normal even for Nixon era guys when they were in private. Remember when Bush said "There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole from the New York Times"? That was nothing, because it was a private comment that happened to get overheard. Political enemies exploit it as much as they can, but they can't get too far without seeming petty and prissy.
Now, McCain did say "F*ck you" in an official setting, and he did shout it. And it does resonate with that negative characterization of McCain as an angry man that his opponents want to sell us. So how much should this hurt McCain as a presidential candidate? I don't think it should hurt him at all. There doesn't seem to be a video clip of it (something that seems to change everything these days). It may have been a big meeting in an ornate room near the Senate floor, but it wasn't on the Senate floor.
This strikes me as babyish tattling. I want a President who says "f*ck you" and calls things that are chickenshit "chickenshit." Not where the kids can hear him, of course. But this was a closed meeting and Cornyn was apparently trying to disqualify his opinion because he dares to go off and run for President. McCain was entitled to push back. I say it's nothing.
ADDED: This is just my opinion. I should tell you I had a low key reaction to the Dean scream back in 2004. The morning after I heard it, I said I thought his opponents were using it because "it seems to confirm that the candidate has the quality we have come to fear he has" -- that is, anger -- but I thought that it didn't really mean anything because "In the context of the room, it made sense to play cheerleader for his disappointed fans."