Let's pretend that all this talk about my brother, Sen. John McCain, is really about his temper.

I don't think anybody knows more about a man's temper than his younger brother. Growing up, a little brother watches his elder as a pack wolf does the clan leader. Every gesture, every nuance is studied for signs of direction and approval.

Like most younger brothers I looked up to John, and exulted in any attention or guidance he might give me. I was six years younger, so he was always bigger. Every thing he did was very important, even cosmic sometimes. That's the way of male siblings.

If John had been prone to spates of ego-tempered and unfair anger, I would have been afraid--just as anyone fears a boss who tries to control them with tantrums. I wasn't afraid. Awed, but never afraid.

And it's silly to talk about whether he got mad or not. Who the hell doesn't? But intemperate? Nah . . .

Ask the guys who served with John in Hanoi. In places and times of great stress, you don't tolerate bullies and prima donnas among your fellows. It multiplies your misery.

Well, I wasn't afraid of John, nor were his fellows in POW camp. But some people seem to be very afraid.

And who are they? Perhaps it's the folks who are reading the polls in New Hampshire and are contemplating their worst nightmare--John McCain as the final "Inspector-of-Pork-and-Gravy" in the Oval Office.

Now that's something for them to be afraid of.

--Joe McCain