Skepticism

Is John McCain stupid because he’s old? Or is he just stupid?

OK, maybe he’s just pandering to the idiots in the Republican base… but jeez.

I don’t usually talk about politics here, but I just can’t help myself. So, instead of ranting, I will let John McCain speak for himself.

On vaccines and autism (2008):

At a town hall meeting Friday in Texas, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., declared that “there’s strong evidence” that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that was once in many childhood vaccines, is responsible for the increased diagnoses of autism in the U.S. — a position in stark contrast with the view of the medical establishment…

McCain said, per ABC News’ Bret Hovell, that “It’s indisputable that (autism) is on the rise amongst children, the question is what’s causing it. And we go back and forth and there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines.”

On evolution (2007):

Friday at noon in Seattle, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will speak at a luncheon event being co-presented by the Discovery Institute — the controversial organization that promotes intelligent design theory and combats Darwinism…

Critics say that McCain’s position on teaching intelligent design in schools is not easy to decipher.

In 2005, he told the Arizona Star, “I think that there has to be all points of view presented. But they’ve got to be thoroughly presented. So to say that you can only teach one line of thinking … or one belief on how people and the world was created I think there’s nothing wrong with teaching different schools of thought.”

Had enough? We’re not done yet. This takes the cake.

On AIDS and condoms (2007):

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.”

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.”

Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”

Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”

Holy crap. This guy is running for President? Don’t candidates have to pass junior high middle school or something?

Hat tip to DemFromCT at DailyKos.


Since I’m already breaking my own rule and talking politics, make sure to check out this story from Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy:

My very good friend Lt. Colonel Hal Bidlack is running for Congress.

He’s running for a seat in the House of Representatives for Colorado’s 5th District. This is Colorado Springs, home to conservative icons like the Air Force Academy and (shudder) Focus on the Family. This is not a stereotypically progressive place.

Hal’s running as a Democrat. And I think he can win…

I don’t live in Colorado’s 5th District, so I can’t vote for Hal. If you do live there, I encourage you to investigate the issues and vote as you see fit.

But if you don’t live there, you can still help put a good man — one of the few — into Congress. If you are an American citizen, please consider donating to Hal’s campaign fund. You know how very rarely I ask for something like this, so I hope you understand how important this is.

I heard Hal speak at TAM a couple of years ago and Colorado can definitely use his voice, especially in Colorado Springs, the seat of religious idiocy in our state.

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

Related Articles

45 Comments

  1. 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…

    Wow! Would probably have been smarter to cover up his ignorance with the Chewbacca defence.

  2. Holy crap. This guy is running for President? Don’t candidates have to pass junior high middle school or something?

    This was my initial thought as well. But when you think about it, Bush has been elected for president TWICE! And let’s face it, he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, if you know what I mean.

  3. You DO realize, don’t you, that McCain WILL be the next president? Mainly, I think, BECAUSE of the nice, comforting stupidity he seems to project.

    But I’m just bitter, so maybe I’ve just got my head up my a**e.

  4. Alas, I do think McCain will probably be the next President. Sigh.

    I think America is going down the toilet, it’s already been flushed and it’s too late to stop it from happening. I expect this country to be in very bad shape before I die. I feel bad for all of you younger people, especially those who have children.

  5. If McCain is the next President can you please convince him to go to war against us chaps in England. We’re tired of being painted with the same brush as those Republican fruit loops. Just put us out of our misery already.

  6. I’m a little more optimistic; I think we’ll end up with an Obama or Clinton presidency. Partly, I think that because McCain’s incompetency is just a little bit too obvious to be dismissed by anyone but the most hardcore of right-wingers. Most of the GOP itself is pretty unhappy with the guy, from what I can tell.

    Of course, I’ve thought before that the Republican candidate was too obviously stupid to be electable…

  7. You DO realize, don’t you, that McCain WILL be the next president? Mainly, I think, BECAUSE of the nice, comforting stupidity he seems to project.

    No no no no no. Please no. I will have to move to Canada and it’s COLD there. I would rather be COLD than endure another Republican presidency. And not being a Hillary booster, really, leaves me in an awful quandry if the O doesn’t get the nomination. My head might explode. I was almost thinking I might be able to tolerate McCain, but thanks for dissuading me from that horribly foolish plan.

  8. Where do they find people like this?

    Apparently, Coco Solo Naval Air Station in Panama. Coco Solo, as near as I can translate means “Lonely Bogeyman”. Or maybe “Individual Coconut”? Well… That’s where they find people like this.

  9. I’m with carbon – I don’t think a McCain presidency is definite, because even Republicans aren’t entirely on board with him. Ann freakin’ Coulter has claimed she’ll vote for a Democrat before she votes for McCain (I don’t believe her, but the fact that she even said it is worth noting).

    And, honestly – I can’t even tell if he’s really that stupid, or just lazy. Part of me thinks that he’s plenty smart enough, he just can’t be bothered to do all that THINKING crap.

  10. I agree wtih Chris … I think we need to look at things in relative terms.

    Does anybody here actually and honestly believe that a McCain administration would be any scarier than the last eight years? Do you think McCain is actually dumber than George Bush? In 1999 (a resident of Texas at the time), I firmly believed that George Bush would be the worst President EVER, particularly as leader of the free world – if for no other reason than that he showed a complete ignorance of basic geography and he couldn’t even complete a sentence without mispronouncing a word (actually, he couldn’t even complete a sentence) which does not instill too much confidence with the rest of the world.

    So NOW you are ready to move to Canada?

    As for this being the worst crop of Republican candidates ever, I’m sorry, but as I see it as a registered Independent who tends to lean Democrat, the intellectual/political evolution from Al Gore to Obama/Clinton is a much steeper slope.

  11. It all comes down to one thing for me: Who will they appoint to the Supreme Court?

    I am a one issue voter in this election. Not that makes any difference, because there’s no way in hell I would ever vote for any Republican.

  12. That’s some pretty sad crap. It is actually quite possible that I would have voted for McCain had he been nominated instead of Dubya. That ship has sunk.

    That said, my view of the act of threatening to move to Canada is pretty much summed up here.

  13. McCain seemed much more moderate in 2000. I don’t know if he would have caved to the extremists so much then or not. It would have been interesting. What I’m afraid of is that a lot of people think he is the same as he was 1o or more years ago, before he started pandering.

  14. I don’t think McCain is stupid so much as uninformed and pandering. It is impossible for a person to stay up on everything so I can almost give him a pass on being uninformed on vaccinations but he should have better people. The other quotes are just pandering to the far-right. What I found interesting was that he was s flustered by such a simple question about contreception. I would think anyone running for president would have an answer prepared for such a hot topic. And, repeatedly deffering to someone else isn’t very presidential.

  15. Pandering is always a factor. There is plenty of pandering going on in all three major campaigns. Hillary Clinton’s implied promises to distressed midwesterners that the glorious 50’s (or at least the almost-as-glorious 90’s) will be back again if they vote for her leaves me feeling a bit ill too.

    I suspect even Bush doesn’t belief half of what he says when he panders to the religious right. Former White House insiders have said that in private, the administration holds the religious right folks in utter contempt.

    “I don’t know if he would have caved to the extremists so much then or not.”

    It is hard to imagine he would have been worse in that regard than what we ended up with.

  16. And to be equal-opportunity, I take a lot of what Obama says about distressed homeowners as pandering too.

    A lot of the people who took out these bad loans knew exactly the terms they were signing up for. They, like the people who offered the loans, just figured that house prices would always go up. If they had won their bet, they would have pocketed all the money made, but now that it didn’t go so well, they want the taxpayers to subsidize their loans on overpriced homes and investment properties. “I get the reward, you all eat the risk.” That’s ridiculous.

    The idea that all the people who took out mortgages with balloon payments are poor people who got taken advantage of is a crock.

  17. “I guess my point is, which is worse:
    (a) evil
    (b) stupid
    (c) stupid + evil?

    I like to think that answer (c) (Bush+Cheney) is correct.”

    This answer accepts as an axiom that good intentions are a statistically significant factor in producing good results in government. I would say that history offers little evidence to support this assumption.

    (My lack of belief in this principle is probably the major schism between me and your garden variety American liberal.)

  18. Czech, but the lenders are most at fault because they should have done proposed payments based on a much higher rate to figure out the person’s debt to income ratio. For instance, if one’s credit card limit is $5,000 but they have a $1,000 balance with a $50 payment, their debt expense should be based on $5,000 since they can charge up to that amount.

    That’s the old conservative way of doing it. Had they done that, people wouldn’t have been approved (since now they can’t make their payments). Of course, they should have made that clear to the consumers. :/

    I’m worried who McCain will pick for VP since I think he’s too old. There was talk at some point about Huckabee. Ugh – that would be one freaky ticket.

    Writerdd, McCain has flip-flopped on Roe vs. Wade, if that’s one of your concerns. He insists on appointing conservative judges and now says he’d have it overturned given the chance. He’s flip-flopped on a lot of things and I don’t think he’ll be able to be his old, more moderate self because he’ll have all those Religious Right and Big Corp supporters nagging at him.

    He’s also anti-choice, so besides everything else, I sure as heck ain’t voting for him.

    If Obama isn’t nominated, I’m voting for Gravel. Seriously.

  19. “Czech, but the lenders are most at fault because…”

    Oh, the lenders were definitely at fault, from the mortgage brokers who closed the deals, to the banks who initially underwrote them, to the fund managers who bought them. Greedy dumbasses the lot of them.

    None of this changes the fact that this whole victimhood of the borrower thing is a big bag of old cobblers.

    I personally don’t like Hillary Clinton. I was ambivalent before this election, but the positive feelings have vaporized.

    I think she is by far the biggest phony of the lot. She runs a nasty Karl Rove level campaign, and on top of that she and her staffers are big whiners. She expected a primary coronation and ended up having to run an actual campaign. Boo-frickin’-hoo.

    I personally like McCain much more. That said, if it comes down to Clinton verses McCain, I plan to vote Clinton…but not with a great deal of joy.

  20. It’s one thing to have stupid beliefs, it’s entirely another not to be sure if you have any at all. Seriously. He can’t remember his positions, so they either aren’t important or he’s just too damn old to remember. I vote for a combination of the two.

  21. I’m not ashamed to say I don’t like any of the remaining candidates. In fact, I hardly even like the word “candidate” anymore, because these days it connotes the incompetence and empty glad-handing inherent in the losers who run for office.

  22. Yes, Melusine, I’m talking to you. If you don’t want a Republican to win and you don’t vote Democrat, that’s just stupid. I’m sorry but I hate to see people throw away their votes when this country really needs a Democrat in office to protect the Supreme Court, the separation of church and state, and all of our rights and freedoms.

    I don’t like any of the candidates, either, Sam. But I’m not going to waste my vote on some third party person who can’t win. Not in these times.

  23. Does anyone know the percentage of eligible voters who actually vote in the US? In England it is something like 38% which is embarrassing enough. Most people who fail to vote give the excuse that it doesn’t do any good. They miss the point that not voting is a vote for the status quo and only by speaking up can the effect any kind of change.

    In the constituency where I vote the slimy, meathead, incumbent, slug puppet of an MP (David Willetts) has an overwhelming majority of around 80% of the votes. My vote makes literally no difference to the chances of him winning. I do vote though. My vote may change the way that he votes in the Commons. If the Green candidate gets more votes than last time then he may just improve his green policies in order to retain his job as my MP. Even a spoiled ballot paper sends a message that no candidate is good enough. It may be a small protest but it is well worth making.

    Furthermore it may inspire someone else to vote against the simpering, miserable vomitous mass or even a charismatic candidate to stand against him.

    My vote, like everyone else’s, makes a difference.

  24. Yes, Melusine, I’m talking to you. If you don’t want a Republican to win and you don’t vote Democrat, that’s just stupid. I’m sorry but I hate to see people throw away their votes when this country really needs a Democrat in office to protect the Supreme Court, the separation of church and state, and all of our rights and freedoms.

    First off, Writerdd, I’m really surprised you were so blunt and rude. I’ve been nothing but supportive of people here and I didn’t jump on your one-issue voting, which I think is a very selfish thing to do. I could never imagine voting over one issue. So, “that’s just stupid” doesn’t fly with me.

    You might first ask WHY I would vote for another Democrat – NOT a third party, which you ignored my saying. Hillary will be as ineffective as McCain might be scary. I never wanted her to run, she’s conducted her campaign in a despicable way, she’s Bush-lite, so really, why would I vote over my conscience for her? The DNC is on a suicidal mission.

    So, if Hillary gets nominated (and there’s no reason she should), in my little state it won’t matter much, so Gravel is on my ticket running as a DEMOCRAT. I agree with him on all issues; I’m not going to be responsible for an ineffective, lying President. Hillary won’t beat McCain anyway. I’m voting for Obama.

    I also have friends who will vote for McCain over Hillary if Obama doesn’t win. Go figure.

    I don’t like any of the candidates, either, Sam. But I’m not going to waste my vote on some third party person who can’t win. Not in these times.

    Again, Gravel isn’t a third party, if you want to get your facts straight. He’s just got no chance of winning. Geesh…this place has gotten cold.

    Czech, as a previous lender I understand what you’re saying about borrowers not educating themselves and wanting more than they can afford; I’ve tried that on my conservative Republican father and he thinks it’s just because I know the business. The fact (and I think you’ll agree) is that personal debt is quite high in general, because people buy what they can’t afford. Not understanding what a variable rate is and planning for the worst is more of that “I want.”

    Problem is, we’ve got a big problem that affects everyone. Lenders don’t want the houses back. It would help if they were more affordable in the first place.

  25. Melusine, and that is why this country will continue to go down the toilet and the Supreme Court will be taken over by right wing theocrats. Thanks for your contribution to destroying American democracy.

    OK, now everyone sees why I do not post about politics.

  26. Writerdd, I don’t know what chip you have on your shoulder, but if you think Hillary will do much – she’s part of the problem with this country! Vote for Obama!

    There are also MANY issues to be concerned about, especially education, economics, foreign policy, science research.

    …Supreme Court will be taken over by right wing theocrats. Thanks for your contribution to destroying American democracy.

    Oh brother, says the convert to the life-long atheist. As Dick Cheney would say…

  27. Come on people, what the hell is so hard about this election. Sure, your choices might be limited to different nuances of pure evil, but some of them are frickin’ extremists! Do whatever you can to get those high-hatting monkey haters out of there!

  28. writerdd,

    I was particularly struck by the irony of your comment about the Supreme Court (i.e., an entity which is comprised of non-elected members who serve for life and have no army to enforce its decisions) is “destroying democracy” … But with all due respect, I think you are overstating the importance of the Presidential election vis a vis constitutional law … Since Roe v. Wade seems to keep coming up in these discussions, I will try to direct my observations into the context …

    First of all, with respect to nominees to the Court, there is nothing but speculation as to which justice is going to leave, stay, or die over the next 4 to 8 years … Furthermore, nominees have to be confirmed by the Senate, which tends to affect who ANY President nominates – consider what the Democrats in the Senate did to Reagan with the Bork nomination in 1987 … To be sure, this merely mitigates the role of the President, but it also this suggests that you should be almost just as concerned about your state’s choice of Senator – particularly if the Presidential race in your state is not going to be particularly close.

    Second, the justices do not necessarily line up along party lines … Historically, look at Brennan (appointed by Eisenhower), Blackmun (appointed by Nixon), O’Connor (appointed by Reagan), and Stewart (appointed by Bush I), etc. … Consider the most recent abortion case – in Gonzales v. Carhart, the five “conservative” justices voted to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion Act, but ONLY Scalia and Thomas indicated that they would overturn Roe v. Wade (and notably, Scalia and Thomas suggested that they felt that the Act probably exceeded Congress’ constitutional authority in any event).

    Third, as with most notable Supreme Court caess regarding “constitutional rights,” Roe v. Wade essentially addressed an issue of federalism – the power of the states v. the federal rights of individuals – and in this context, that case stands for the proposition that the individual states may not adopt their own laws utterly prohibiting abortion (at least in the first trimester) … So even if the world came to an end and the case was overturned, the issue would be left to the legislative process in each state, and a large majority of states would keep abortion legal and safe (from the last I read, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Hawaii are the only probable states to repeal legal abortion laws altogether) …

    So the President’s influence on the Supreme Court and constitutional law should be the threshhold issue? (I am asking seriously) … While Social Security and Medicare are heading for disaster (the President IS the single most significant source of new legislation proposals)? … While foreign policy is in shambles and a global environmental policy is sorely needed (the President IS the chief displomat, commander in chief, and leader of the free world)? … etc.

  29. I was particularly struck by the irony of your comment about the Supreme Court (i.e., an entity which is comprised of non-elected members who serve for life and have no army to enforce its decisions) is “destroying democracy”

    I don’t think it’s ironic at all, and I don’t really think it is overreacting. If the courts continue to be stacked with justices who give the president more and more power, who tear down the balance of powers and the separation of church and state, that pretty much puts the nail in the coffin of the future of democracy.

    Yes, in this election, the president’s influence on the Supreme Court is — to me at least — the most and only important issue.

    Besides the Republicans fuck up every thing you’ve mentioned every time they have power, so there’s that, too.

    Anyway, I’m done with this topic. I enjoy skepchick and I don’t want to ruin it for myself with politics, which I despise. So talk amongst yourselves and I am going back to posting about books and religion. TAFN.

  30. Both candidates always suck. That’s the nature of Presidential politics. If any of us were major Presidential candidates, we’d suck too. No one can look good under that microscope. It’s like being a Brobdinagian from Gulliver’s Travels for whom every mole and scar is magnified into a mountain or canyon.

    (I’m an Obama supporter. I’ve got to say that I’m actually a little happier now that the bloom is off the rose because the whole cult of personality thing was starting to creep me out. )

    Politics is a nasty business. It is all the best and worst about human interaction on steroids. It always has been and always will be for as long as there are humans.

    Politics is not there to be liked or enjoyed. It is a necessary part of human governance, and we are damn lucky that we have to muddy ourselves with the whole dirty business because the alternative is to circle around the great dictator and sing his praises while he worries about the politics so we can rest our pretty little heads.

  31. Obama makes me smile:

    Q: York County was recently in the news for a lawsuit involving the teaching of intelligent design. What’s your attitude regarding the teaching of evolution in public schools?

    A: “I’m a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state.

    But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there’s a difference between science and faith. That doesn’t make faith any less important than science. It just means they’re two different things. And I think it’s a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don’t hold up to scientific inquiry.

    http://ydr.inyork.com/ci_8744384

    OK, he buys into the non-overlapping magesteria idea. But I’m still deciding if I do or not, so I can’t really hold that against him.

  32. “Alas, I do think McCain will probably be the next President. Sigh.”

    writerdd, if it makes you feel any better, current betting odds show Obama to be the favourite for the Presidency.

    http://odds.bestbetting.com/specials/politics/usa/president

    Of course, betting odds are no guarantee of certainty, but if you really think that McCain is in with a chance, why not put your money where your mouth is?

    Or are you chicken?

    *cluck* *cluck* *cluck*

Leave a Reply

You May Also Enjoy

Close
Close