Proving once again what a good sport he is, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain showed up on CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman last night, "surprising" Dave as he delivered a string of one-liners on how old McCain looks ("…he looks like the guy who’s always got wirey hair growing out of new places"). The senator then gamely lit into Dave with a few insults of his own (supplied, no doubt, by Letterman’s writing staff).
Now, McCain is an amiable TV presence. Whether he’s on Hardball or The Daily Show, he manages to show good humor without embarrassing himself. And given his reputation for occasional outbursts of pique, I can’t help but think he has taken steps–whether through media coaching or good old self-discipline–to be soft-spoken and unflappable.
But watching him stand next to Letterman, clearly unsure of what to do with his hands as he stiffly read his lines, it occurred to me that all of the candidates really need to up their game. If making multiple appearances on late-night shows is now something voters have come to expect–see, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on SNL–presidential contenders ought to spend a weekend at Second City doing improv drills.