On Gay Bullying and DADT: Cindy McCain vs. John McCain


john mccain annapolis.jpg
(April 1, 2008 – Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America)
Over the years, this blog has expressed admiration for some of the principled issues that John McCain stood by when his Republican Party was off course. He was gay friendly then and had lots of gay staffers in his campaign. He was backing serious efforts in campaign finance and broad election reform. He was the epitome of a “radical centrist” when he was the straight-talk express John McCain.
If John McCain had beaten George Bush in the 2000 primary, I would have strongly supported his campaign.
But something has happened. He has become more mean, more rigid, an angry Senator who seems bent on destroying his own considerable legacy by doubling down against the normalization of gay rights in the country.
I don’t understand why he is doing this. I’ve known and respected him for years and have always felt that whether it came to national security policy with regard to North Korea, or leading on normalization of relations with Vietnam, or believing that we needed to fundamentally change the dynamics of the corporate takeover of the nation’s election machinery, McCain has been a great leader. I haven’t supported his views on Iran, think he oversells “the surge” in Iraq – but reasonable people can debate these important matters in a civil and respectful way as I have tried to do with the Senator on many fronts for years.
Some of his closest, long term advisers and friends are well respected gay lawyers and politicos. He knows that the military is packed with honorable gay men and lesbian women serving their country. I’ve personally heard him express appreciation for their service.
But now he’s the lead opponent in the US Senate of efforts to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell — and McCain who is probably in his last term in the US Senate is going to scar his legacy badly by making himself into one of those Senators who voted against the Civil Rights act or who supported racial segregation and upheld an infrastructure of bigoted law in America’s past.
I want the straight-talking John McCain back — a McCain that is going to be relevant to our nation’s future, not one that we have to always express shame about as we look back at his legacy because he was the person who ‘delayed’ the normalization of gay rights in this country and in the US military. Strom Thurmond eventually remade himself and found ways to demonstrate that he had dropped his once raging bigotry, but John McCain at the current point of his career is possibly going to end on a very dark note.

As the intrepid John Aravosis has pointed out today, John McCain’s wife will not join him in his anti-gay crusade.
Aravosis writes:

John McCain is leading the filibuster against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” “repeal” legislation in the Senate (it’s not an actual repeal, but we’ll leave that for another time). Today, Cindy McCain joined a number of celebrities in a video about gay youth suicide and bullying.
Mrs. McCain’s part of the video condemned DADT and then accused our government of sending bullies a message that what they do is okay.
The woman basically accused her husband of sharing the blame for gay kids killing themselves.
I’m astonished. And impressed as hell.

Our political and religious leaders tell LGBT youth that they have no future.
They can’t serve our country openly.


What’s worse, these laws that legislate discrimination teach bullies that what they’re doing is acceptable.


Our government treats the LGBT community like second class citizens, why shouldn’t they?

I want to express thanks to Cindy McCain for this brave and much appreciated message to bulliers everywhere and for her support of the gay men and women serving this nation and risking their lives in military engagements thousands of miles from home.
I can’t imagine to know or understand the contours of their marriage. That is their private affair.
But I can’t help wondering whether Cindy McCain misses her straight-talking, do-the-right-thing husband as much as I do.
— Steve Clemons


12 comments on “On Gay Bullying and DADT: Cindy McCain vs. John McCain

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Here is Cantor, ADMITTING to a felony, if his own definition of “felony” is to be taken seriously……
    And, as an aside, he is also pointing out that John McCain and Joe Lieberman are felons as well…..
    Steve didn’t have anything to say about it when McCain was over in Israel undermining a position that Steve seems to support. Apparently McCain isn’t as homophobic as we would imagine, considering that he is more than willing to bend over for Bibi Netanyahu.


  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “While I don’t argue with your theme, to state categorically that the military is “packed” with serving homosexuals is both doubtful and widely speculative………”
    Judging simply from the huge numbers of military personnel, it is indeed sensible to draw the conclusion that there are large numbers of the gay community serving.
    “Seems she has changed her mind on DADT. She tweeted that she stands by her husband….”
    John McCain to Cindy…..
    “Now you’re getting’ it, sweetie. Depending on your audience, say what will resonate with them. Forget the bullshit about conviction, honesty, representation, or patriotism. Its all about votes and money, saying the right things to the right people, whether you mean it or not.”


  3. Bob says:

    While I don’t argue with your theme, to state categorically that the military is “packed” with serving homosexuals is both doubtful and widely speculative. If you actually believe in the detrimental effects of DADT, then it is contradictory to think that this true at this point.


  4. DakotabornKansan says:

    “When angry, count to four. When very angry, swear.” – Mark Twain


  5. DakotabornKansan says:
  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Steve, POA may have been a tad rude ….”
    Just a “tad”????
    Damn, I must be slipping. I’ll hafta lessen my daily dosage of Prozac.
    (I mean hey, that MUST be why we Americans continue to cow-tow to these pieces of shit that long ago abandoned any pretense of honest or convicted “representation”. Are we all on drugs? Is there an explanation for our subservience to these scumbags?)


  7. Jay C says:

    Steve, POA may have been a tad rude in his formulation of the issue, but, I think, is unfortunately correct in his concept. If one examines his record, over his career in Washington, John McCain has put (IMO, anyway) vastly more effort into crafting the image of the “straight-talking maverick” than he has in actually being one. And gotten away with, of course, since our dysfunctional political media, ever-loathe to call out the right wing for virtually anything has been basically bought off, and bought into the mythology.
    Sadly, the only thing that DADT Repeal has going for it nowadays is that, as a policy, it is The Right Thing To Do. Unfortunately, that doesn’t get one very far in Washington….


  8. Don Bacon says:

    John McCain has had a checkered career, that’s for sure, but in his STRONG favor was his stand against the corrupting influence of large political contributions with McCain-Feingold. It earned him the hatred of conservatives but it was a courageous stand on one of the largest problems we have. Larger than the one of gays in the military? We can debate that.


  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Immigration….flip flop, no conviction.
    Torture….flip flop, no conviction.
    Now this. I too “stand by what I wrote”.
    McCain oughta be put out to graze. Someone should slip him a note telling him if he becomes a vegetarian than he’ll get lottsa votes. Maybe then the old codger will look for a pasture to feed in, and maybe you’ll come to the realization that anything coming out of him is exactly what I’ve always contended it is.


  10. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks POA — I appreciate your framing but I’ll stand by what I wrote. I’ve known John McCain for a long time and there are things he has done that I have tremendous respect for. I would have supported him in 2000. And I wish we had more of that John McCain today and less of the one who has decided to put himself behind history rather than in front of it. All best to you, Steve


  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I don’t understand why he is doing this.”
    Oh Steve, gimmee a break. You know EXACTLY why he’s “doing this”. Because he is your typical sack of shit DC politician that would throw his mother under the bus if he thought it would appeal to his “base”. I mean, where has he shown conviction? He changes with the political winds.
    In all honesty, it escapes me why you hold some of these scumbags in such high esteem. You remind me of someone who, when dumped in a snakepit, dances around mumbling……
    “Butterflies!!!! Butterflies!!! Look at the beautiful butterflies!!!!”


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