The most cogent explanation I've heard for McCain's wording came from Marc Ambinder:
McCain uses "that one" frequently in his stump speeches; the set-up is usually clearer, as McCain refers to Obama's being one of the senators who supported it, not McCain -- as in, if you had to guess who supported the Bush-Cheney '05 energy bill, it's that senator, not this senator. But it came off awkwardly on stage tonight. |Ambinder|
Fair enough. Like other reasonable people, I'm willing to believe that the intent was entirely benign.
But I also know that it isn't something that I would have said, especially not about an African American man. Perhaps my self-censorship is political correctness run amok. All I can say is that I come by it honestly. I've had the privilege of saying a lot of stupid shit in rooms where women, people of color, sexual minorities, immigrants, Native Americans and various other others have had enough power to call me on it. That McCain doesn't have a filter tells you something about his experiences.