The eight seconds of McCain’s deer in the headlights expression when asked what he thought about some insurance companies paying for Viagra but not for birth control pills was classic unscripted political theater. His response, basically was that he had an opinion but he’d have to look it up. And this man wants to be president?
Here’s a transcript (see video from Huffington Post) of the exchange aboard his campaign bus, dubbed “The Straight Talk Express”:
Maeve Reston of the L.A. Times: Earlier this week Carly (Fiorina) was meeting with a bunch of reporters and talked about it being unfair that insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control. And -
McCain: I certainly do not want to discuss that issue.
Reston: But apparently you’ve voted against-
McCain: I don’t know what I voted -
Reston: Voted against coverage of birth control, forcing health insurance companies to cover birth control in the past. Is that still your position?
McCain: I’ll look at my voting record on it, but I have, uh, (5 second pause) , I don’t recall the vote right now. But I’ll be glad to look at it and get back to you as to why, I don’t -
Reston: I guess her statement was that it was unfair that health insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control. Do you have an opinion on that.
McCain: (after 8 second pause) I don’t know enough about it to give you an informed answer because I don’t recall the vote, I’ve cast thousands of votes in the Senate. I will respond to – it’s a, it’s a-
Reston: Delicate issue?
McCain: It’s something that I had not thought much about and I did hear about her response but I hadn’t thought much. But I will get, I will get back to you today on it.
McCain: I don’t usually duck an issue, but I’m, I’ll try to get back to you. (Fox News)
McCain has a memory deficit since he voted against mandating birth control insurance coverage in 2005. This doesn’t seem to be a vote he’d forget. Call it a medi-gap in memory.
Female voters should be made aware of McCain’s rather missionary positions on their rights to control their own bodies.
When he was asked a question with the political red flags Viagra and birth control be became befuddled.
Perhaps the kindest explanation is that his answers were a function of normal aging. Most people have moments like this more frequently as they age.
Or maybe this incident proves nothing more than that McCain is uncomfortable talking about sexual matters. It could be that he takes Viagra himself and had a twinge of anxiety that the reporter had some usually personal (except for Bob Dole) inside the zipper information she might bring up in her next question.
As likely as these possible reasons is the explanation that McCain isn’t in the upper percentile of being intellectually adept when under pressure or feeling irritated. We’ve seen other indications of this in his remarks from “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” to throwing out the f-word.
I suspect McCain is, in his own way, as intellectually lazy as George W. Bush. I don’t think he is either an analytic or profound thinker.
Since this story is as much about sex as it is about health insurance and McCain’s squirming it is getting a lot of play on television. Unfortunately commentators are laughing about it rather than delving into asking more substantial questions about how it reflects on McCain. But at least as they replay the interview more and more people get to see it.
Hopefully some undecided voters will ask themselves whether the captain of the Straight Talk Express really has the type of intellect to be promoted to commander-in-chief.
Added 7/12/08 “Liar, liar, pants on fire”: The nature and timing of McCain’s divorce from Carol Shepp alienated key friends including the Reagans — and his version doesn’t always match that in court documents. LA Times link
He’s running in part on his history; but can we believe anything this candidate says?
We may never know whether he embellished his POW story. His veracity is thrown into question by his recent Pittsburgh Steelers incident (here’s what the local paper had to say in “McCain’s mind no steel trap in recalling Steelers”: Sen. John McCain stuck his Terrible Towel in his mouth this week.). He really needs Pennsylvania to win so this IS a big deal.
Can we believe this story (from the LA Times article cited above): In 1974, Reagan invited McCain to speak at a governor’s prayer breakfast in Sacramento. The former prisoner of war told the story of a fellow captive who had scratched a prayer on a cell wall. Ronald and Nancy Reagan were reduced to tears. It was “the most moving speech I had ever heard,” Reynolds said.