Last Friday, reporters managed to stump 2008 presidential hopeful John McCain. What tough topic caused the senator to pause awkwardly and stumble for an answer? Iraq? No … Poverty? Try again … Healthcare? Getting closer … Contraception? Bingo! Specifically, whether contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV and should they be publicly funded.
Now, this should be a no-brainer. Honestly, anyone who has been through sex ed should know that condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV infection. Oh wait … except that abstinence-only education gets tons of funding (while comprehensive sex ed gets none) and so it is prevalent in our nation's schools despite the fact that it doesn't teach kids medically accurate information, it doesn't teach them how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections and abstinence-only programs actually spread misinformation and religious dogma. Well, don't worry—McCain is also confused about his position on sexuality education. After a long pause, he decided that he thinks he supports the president's policy.
Here's my favorite section of the interview:
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."
Q: "I mean, I think you'd probably agree it probably does help stop it?"
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."
If you ask me, he doesn't sound sure at all. In fact, it doesn't sound like he's actually thinking for himself. Which brings me back to the beginning of the interview where McCain said that he looks to Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn for advice on these issues (it just keeps getting scarier, doesn't it?).