MCCAIN’S ZAPATERO GAFFE…. John McCain’s trouble late last week with questions about Spain’s Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero were, as we discussed at some length, open to a variety of interpretations. Maybe McCain didn’t know who Zapatero is. Maybe McCain didn’t realize that Spain isn’t in Latin America. Maybe he just didn’t understand the reporter’s question.

But the response from the McCain campaign was the most striking: he was deliberately snubbing the leader of an allied nation and NATO partner.

Today, Barack Obama spoke to the same Miami radio station that McCain spoke to when he created a stir last week. Obama was asked the identical question: as president, would he meet with Zapatero?

“Of course. Spain is a NATO ally, and the fact that Senator McCain indicated that he might not meet with Zapatero I think indicates that he wants to continue the Cheney policies of trying to dictate American foreign policy instead of trying to build cooperation. I think that’s a mistake.”

I think this is the right way to handle the flap. There may be some question about McCain’s understanding of who Zapatero is and where Spain is, but for the Obama campaign, accepting McCain’s comments at face value, and embracing the McCain campaign’s response as sincere, is damaging enough on its own.

Truth be told, I’m very much inclined to agree with Yglesias and Marshall about what transpired — McCain just got confused, and did not intend to thumb his nose at a NATO ally. But the McCain campaign insisted this was deliberate, and McCain really was trying to insult our ally, so it makes sense for Obama to go with Scheuenemann & Co. have given him.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.