November 19, 2006
McCain the social conservative
Posted by: Chris
When John McCain faced off against George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential primaries, a lot of gay Republican money and support went to the Arizona senator. On gay rights issues, the two Republicans were pretty much alike, but McCain was more open to dialogue and at least agreed to meet with the Log Cabin Republicans. Bush, on the other hand, refused to sit down with Log Cabin, while (in)famously declaring himself "a uniter and not a divider."
Six years later, as McCain gears up for a certain presidential bid in 2008, his opposition to any form of gay rights has clearly hardened, part of his general strategy of ingratiating himself with conservative Christians who helped sink his 2000 run. Today on ABC's "This Week," host George Stephanopoulos came right out of the box in the first few minutes of the interview with a series of questions on gay rights. And while McCain talked about his opposition to "discrimination," his positions were clear:
- Against gay marriage and (unlike suggestions from President Bush) civil unions
- Against domestic partnerships or any form of legal recognition for gay couples
- Against reconsideration, much less repeal, of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
- Against basic employment non-discrimination legislation
The only bright spot was on a federal marriage amendment. While McCain didn't address the issue specifically, he said that as "a federalist" he believed social issues like gay marriage (and abortion) should be decided by the states.
Follow the jump for videoclips of McCain's "This Week" appearance:
Videoclips of his appearance follow, and kudos to Stephanapoulos for pressing McCain on how his personal opposition to discrimination didn't translate into policy.
Here he is on gays in the military:
On gay marraige, McCain voted this month for a sweeping (and failed) Arizona ballot measure that banned not only marriage but civil unions and domestic partnerships. McCain seems to think he strikes a moderate tone by defending the ability of gays to enter into private contracts with our partners if we want. Gee, thanks:
Finally, Stephanopoulos asked whether McCain agreed with Trent Lott that homosexuality is a "sin." Though McCain disagreed and called discrimination against gays "un-American," he reiterated his opposition to even workplace protections for gays:
McCain's run to the right is a questionable strategy. In didn't work for Steve Forbes and Lamar Alexander, two social moderates whose ran to the right on their second White House bids and were crushed, performing worse than their first time around. McCain will be a much stronger candidate in '08 and is the clear GOP frontrunner, but his lurch to the hard-right risks turning off the independents he needs to actually be elected.
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