Over the weekend, John McCain told the New York Times that he opposes gay adoption, even if the alternative is leaving a child in an orphanage. A few days later, McCain’s campaign reversed course and said the senator doesn’t actually believe what he said — “caring parental figures,” even if they’re gay, are “better for the child than the alternative.”
This has been a politically tricky story for McCain. In the wake of his interview comments, published Sunday, McCain drew fairly intense criticism from gay rights groups and adoption advocates, both of which were pleased to see McCain quickly reverse course.
But in making them happy, McCain has once again made the unhinged wing of his party far less happy. Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody wrote:
I’m confused. John McCain gave an interview to The New York Times this week saying he was against gay adoption but then his Communications Director sought to clarify those comments afterwards by saying it was a ’state issue” and that “caring parental figures are better for the child than the alternative” of abandoned children.
Huh? That sound you just heard was a can of worms opening up…. I mean if you’re going to say that you’re against gay adoption then why not just stick with that view rather than trying to massage it? The qualifier after the interview does some damage. Why? Because McCain had an opportunity to add the gay adoption issue to his Evangelical checklist and now it’s muddy. […]
Evangelicals are already feeling fidgety about McCain and have concerns about him on a number of issues. Why add to the list?
Brody wrote this on Tuesday, shortly after the McCain campaign “clarified” the position, but the religious right’s discontent has festered.
The Family Research Council also expressed its displeasure in an email to members.
Trying to appeal to both moderates and social conservatives, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has generally tread lightly on some touchy values issues. That was not the case last weekend when the Arizona senator’s personal experience led him to make some candid comments about his opposition to homosexual adoption. The GOP nominee, whose daughter Bridget is adopted, answered questions about what type of parents are best suited for raising children. In response to New York Times reporters who said, “President Bush believes that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt children. Do you agree with that?” McCain said plainly, “I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family, so, no, I don’t believe in gay adoption.” When the Times pressed him with, “But your concern would be that the couple should be a traditional couple,” McCain replied “Yes.”
After the Times interview, McCain’s communications director, Jill Hazelbaker, reportedly issued a statement that qualified the senator’s remarks. If it came to choosing between remaining unadopted and or having homosexual parents, she said, “McCain believes that in those situations that caring parental figures are better for the child than the alternative.” The remark only muddies the waters. It’s incumbent on mother-father families to step up so that no child faces a dilemma like this. At the same time, abandoning the mother-father model has a cyclical impact by weakening the traditional family unit. The McCain campaign should not fall into this “lady or the tiger” trap and should emphasize the need to rebuild the natural family.
As a substantive matter, I haven’t the foggiest idea why far-right conservatives — and John McCain, as of Sunday — would oppose children in need going to live with people who will love and care for them.
But as a political matter, McCain continues to find himself tied in knots, trying to appear reasonable while keeping a very unreasonable Republican base happy.