I’ve said it before, and will keep saying it until it becomes some sort of meme: Like all great indie acts, John McCain’s early work was better.
There was a time when McCain at least put on a good show, presenting himself as an opponent of the corrosive effects of money on politics, and working to close loopholes. He was also slightly saner than other Republicans on global warming, though that hasn’t translated to policy. And, while he shares their atrocious opposition to a woman’s right to control her own body, he was also willing to denounce Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as “agents of intolerance,” describing them as “corrupting influence on religion and politics,” who “shame our faith, our party and our country.”
That was Feb. 28, 2000, almost exactly 8 years ago, as he ran for president against George W. Bush. In the intervening years, he seems to have decided he really wants to be the president. So he sought the endorsement of Holocaust-denying, slavery-advocating, Katrina-praising, Catholic-bashing, Armageddon enthusiast and extremist preacher John Hagee.
In a bid to undermine whatever remains of his credibility on science issues, he recently jumped in with those advocating a link between a vaccine preservative and autism, a link with no scientific basis (other than the general sense that mercury can do bad things). A couple months ago, I wrote:
Kevin Drum is far too optimistic in thinking that yet another study showing no link between thimerosal and autism will make people finally stop pushing their anti-vaccination bogosity. He’s right that many of them are motivated by heartbreaking circumstances, but that doesn’t excuse their efforts to make flu vaccines more expensive for senior citizens (childhood vaccines no longer use thimerosal, so their anti-thimerosal campaigns in state legislatures wouldn’t make any difference on autism, even if there were a thimerosal autism link (and there isn’t). I vaguely hoped that a study of 28,000 Quebecois children would bring an end to the thimerosal/autism claims, but I wasn’t surprised that it didn’t.
Indeed, this bogus claim now joins intelligent design creationism and condom quackery in McCain’s campaign platform.
McCain developed a strange amnesia about his position regarding whether condoms prevent HIV transmission not long ago, telling reporters “You’ve stumped me. …I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. … 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.”
Tom Coburn is a leading candidate for the McCain VP slot, and has wasted copious congressional and bureaucratic time in a crusade against condoms (and therefore against STD prevention).
Anyone care to calculate McCain’s Moby Quotient?