I've heard this comment from a couple of people recently, and it really bugs me.
"Why?" I ask.
"Because I hear he's a hothead? Do we want someone like that with his finger on the nuclear button?"
Please. McCain will tell you himself that he has a temper; he's even committed it to print in at least one of his books.
But how do you get from shouting an occasional epithet in a Senate anteroom to nuking a country in a fit of anger? It's absurd.
In fact, I can make a case that John McCain is one of the most forgiving people on the planet.
It is commonly accepted that McCain was abused, as were so many others, during his 5+ year ordeal as a POW in North Vietnam. (How many people have endured more than 5 years of anything as unpleasant? No marriage jokes allowed.) But McCain has been in the lead in normalizing relations between Viet Nam and the USA. The memories are still there, but he rises above them.
In 2000, McCain and his family were the target of some vicious and personal smears by pro-Bush forces during the primary campaign. After the election, McCain was able to support Bush when he found it appropriate. (I ask you to set aside the not-unreasonable question as to whether McCain should have supported Bush in those circumstances; the point here is that McCain was able to overcome his personal anger when the situation warranted.)
The bottom line: John McCain is the most tested candidate for president than we've seen for years, comparing favorably to JFK's and DDE's war experiences and exceeding everybody else since then. I can think of very few people I would trust more in a stressful situation.