Superstition Ain't The Way

I’d heard that John McCain is superstitious, but I had no idea it was this important to him. Don’t try to pass a salt shaker to John McCain. He w

I’d heard that John McCain is superstitious, but I had no idea it was this important to him.

Don’t try to pass a salt shaker to John McCain. He won’t take it from your hand because it’s bad luck.

The Arizona senator also won’t throw a hat on a bed — it means death will soon visit the household — but he regularly carries 31 cents in lucky change in his pocket. […]

Mr. McCain has dozens of superstitions and rituals, many stemming from his days as a Navy fighter pilot, a notoriously superstitious bunch. He carries a lucky feather, a lucky compass and a lucky penny — not to mention a lucky nickel and a lucky quarter.

He almost picked up a lucky dime in January. As he was preparing for a debate at the Reagan presidential library, he noticed a shiny dime on the stage floor. He stopped to pick it up, but quickly walked away — because if a coin isn’t heads up, he considers it unlucky.

McCain even has a laminated four-leaf clover that he carries in his wallet.

“Am I superstitious? I’m that,” McCain said. “But I don’t think I’m alone there.”

No, I suppose not. I have a reflexive aversion to superstition, but I realize most people pick up certain habits and routines they consider to be “good luck.” Maybe it’s a lucky tie or lucky numbers, but I get the sense that the vast majority have at least some kind of superstition in their life.

But doesn’t McCain sound a little nutty about it?

There was also this Dana Milbank item in the WaPo way back in February 2000.

If John McCain wins today’s South Carolina primary, some will credit his tax plan, while others will point to his war record. Those in the know, however, will attribute victory to the Spring Hill Lizard.

The reptile, believed to have mysterious powers, is the property of one Lanny Wiles, McCain’s trip director. Wiles used it to help Texas A&M beat Nebraska, and to force a golfing opponent to miss a $100 putt. He employs the lizard (which isn’t a lizard at all but a certain spell cast by wiggling the right pinkie) only on rare occasions, such as today. “We use it only if we’re at Def Con One,” says John Weaver, McCain’s political director and occasional witch doctor.


↓ Story continues below ↓

This isn’t the first campaign to honor strange superstitions. During Bill Clinton’s 1992 run, James Carville was known to wear the same underwear for days at a time when things were going well. But this time, there’s a new twist: The candidate himself is the leading shaman. He keeps on his person a lucky compass, a lucky feather, a lucky penny and, at times, a lucky rock. He assigns Weaver to carry his lucky pen — a Zebra Jimnie Gel Rollerball (medium, blue) — at all times. For added luck, he wears his magical L.L. Bean rubber-soled dress shoes.

“I’m wearing my lucky shoes from today till Sunday,” McCain says from his bus on Wednesday. At the moment, his pockets contain the compass, feather (from a tribal leader) and penny (flattened, in his wallet). When McCain once misplaced his feather, there was momentary panic in the campaign, until his wife found it in one of his suits. When the compass went missing once, McCain assigned his political director to hunt it down. Weaver found it, and it remains safe, knock wood.

I have no sense of how the typical person is going to perceive this, but I find it kind of odd.

About Steve Benen

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.