John McCain on AIDS: “Gee, I Never Thought About That!”

Over on Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Ed Brayton has an excellent piece about a recent interview with John McCain on his “Straight Talk Express” tour bus, where he was asked whether the U.S. should fund condom distribution in Africa and elsewhere around the world to help prevent AIDS. You can read the whole transcript (much of which is appalling) on Ed’s blog, or on the New York Times blog he was citing. I just want to point out the comments that really jumped out at me:

“I never got a question about it before.”

“You’ve stumped me.”

“I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”

So let me get this straight.

He’s been in Congress since 1982. He’s been in the Senate since 1986. He ran for President in 2000. In other words, his national political career dovetails almost perfectly with the emergence of the AIDS epidemic in this country.

And this is the first time he’s considered the question of what the U.S. government should and should not do to help stop the spread of HIV?

That, just by itself, makes him grotesquely unqualified to be President. Heck, it makes him grotesquely unqualified to be in the Senate.

Of course, I don’t think that’s really what’s going on. I don’t think this is the first time he’s considered this question. I just think it’s the first time he’s considered this question since he decided that, if he wants to be President, he has to start sucking the dick of the religious right. (The more I read about McCain, the more I realize that the whole “free-thinking maverick who’ll fight for the little guy” schtick is one of the most successful snow jobs in the history of American politics. You can read more about him in the Culture Wars archives and on Making Light.)

But look at it this way. The very fact that he thinks “Gee, I never really thought about this before” is a remotely valid response to the question “What should the U.S. government do to help stop the spread of HIV?” — that, just by itself, proves beyond any doubt that he is not qualified to be dogcatcher… much less a Senator, and much, much less a President.

John McCain on AIDS: “Gee, I Never Thought About That!”

5 thoughts on “John McCain on AIDS: “Gee, I Never Thought About That!”

  1. 1

    You know – the whole condoms in Africa thing has been pursued by private charities and non-U.S. groups. It is funded. People would *love* if Africans took all those free condoms. The nephew who lived with me for a couple of years is now working on a study for an alternative antiviral. It is a gel that women use with antiviral meds in the gel.
    I asked him why they don’t just use condoms and he explained that the culture in the countries under study (I forget which ones) are anti-condom. Men there do not like them and will not use them. Women will go along with what the men want. He explained that, until the role of women shifts in Africa, condoms will not be used effectively.
    So, instead, nice researchers are looking into this goop that is something like 50-70% (I forget exactly) effective in preventing AIDS.
    However, McCain came off rather badly by not addressing this important foreign policy (and epidemiology) issue.

  2. 2

    You didn’t mention my favorite response from the “Maverick”
    Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception—I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”
    So he can’t say what he thinks until he checks to find out what position he has taken in the past. Why? Is it because he has flip flopped on everything from Roe vs Wade (was against overturning it-now all for getting rid of it) to Falwell (once spoke against him and his ilk, now trying to be BFF) and he’s afraid of being caught in yet another flip flop?
    Or maybe I’m being unfair…the poor guy could just be losing it. Either way, it’s time for Maverick to be put out to pasture.

  3. 3

    Yes! One of the most successful snow jobs in the history of American politics. If you ever had a soft spot for John McCain read Paul Krugman’s columns of 3-13-06 and 4-3-06.
    Krugman has, thankfully, taken on exposing McCain’s horrible right wing record, and from time to time writes a fabulous smear piece about him.

  4. 4

    And his big idea is “see what Coburn said”? What a crock. Coburn is one of the most anti-sex, anti-women, homophobic jerks who’s been elected to Congress in the last 20 years. Very much in the pocket of the religious right.
    Yeah, not exactly the maverick “thinking for himself” kind of guy anymore.

  5. 5

    Another comment, on a previous comment – microbicides do hold a lot of promise, but so far haven’t been found to be very effective. Also, they don’t actually contain any anti-viral medication.
    Further, people in Africa will, in fact, use condoms if they have them, and HIV prevention resources there, including condoms, are desperately under-funded. The US can and should be doing more, including funding for condoms and for contraception. Yes, there are organizations, from the US and elsewhere, providing some amount of free condoms, and I am sure that they are happy when people take them. That does not mean that the issue has been taken care of, or that the resources are adequate, or that we should give up on condoms and look to other methods, especially as-yet unproven ones like microbicides.

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