a bird and a bottle

The Straight Talk Express Makes a Turn to the Right
March 17, 2007, 2:45 am
Filed under: 2008, media, news, politics, reproductive justice, sexuality

Straight talk express meet Republican politics.

John McCain has resurrected the Straight Talk Express, his town hall meeting bus tour of the U.S. in which he promises to give people straight answers not political talking points. He only got 2 days in before he not only flubbed an answer, but also made it clear how little straight talk Americans should expect from him. At a Q&A in Iowa yesterday a reporter asked him whether he supported tax-financed condoms to prevent the spread of HIV in Africa, and whether he thought condoms helped prevent the spread of the disease at all. The NY Times’ Caucus blog has a transcript of the exchange:

Reporter: “Should U.S. taxpayer money go to places like Africa to fund contraception to prevent AIDS?”

Mr. McCain: “Well I think it’s a combination. The guy I really respect on this is Dr. Coburn. He believes – and I was just reading the thing he wrote– that you should do what you can to encourage abstinence where there is going to be sexual activity. Where that doesn’t succeed, than he thinks that we should employ contraceptives as well. But I agree with him that the first priority is on abstinence. I look to people like Dr. Coburn. I’m not very wise on it.”

(Mr. McCain turns to take a question on Iraq, but a moment later looks back to the reporter who asked him about AIDS.)

Mr. McCain: “I haven’t thought about it. Before I give you an answer, let me think about. Let me think about it a little bit because I never got a question about it before. I don’t know if I would use taxpayers’ money for it.”

Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

Now, I think it’s safe to say that anyone is talking straight and has not been living in a hole for the last 25 years is going to admit that condoms can prevent the transmission of HIV and can decrease rates of HIV. But any Republican candidate trying to win the support of the right wing radicals (TM) — as McCain is — knows that admitting that condoms and even sex education, which came up later in the colloquy with the reporter — might actually be (gasp!) good would sink chances of a bear hug with Daddy Dobson. So McCain turns to Dr. Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma senator who thinks we should execute abortion doctors and who was accused of sterilizing women without their consent when performing cesareans, and who is loved by Daddy D. and crew.

And McCain jumped off the straight talk express and into politics flub-land:

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 [NB: his press secretary], 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.”

You know a politician isn’t talking straight when he says he is sure he has a position on something (inevitably something controversial, as ridiculous as it is that condoms for HIV prevention falls into that category) but that he needs to look up what his position is.

So much for straight talk and honest politics.

(hat tip: Fishwatch)


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Good find. I agree with the tenor of your post completely (though we can’t expect candidates to know all their positions all the time) and would only add that where he is talking straight is in his adherence to a radical right wing agenda. Anyone who opposes the use of condoms in Africa and claims to stand for a culture of life is really an adherent of the culture of right wing hypocrisy.

Comment by professorplum

yeah, thanks for this. i just sent around to the office. maybe we should get him and frist together to debate whether HIV is transmitted through sweat and tears. f-ing idiots…

Comment by maxwell

Ha. I’ll be interested to hear what your co-workers have to say. Between him, Frist, and Coburn you’ve got your own set of three GOP stooges.

Comment by bean

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