John McCain sat down in Hudson, Wisconsin with New York Times reporters Adam Nagourney and Michael Cooper to talk about his brand on conservatism. In it, he rejects the "Goldwater conservative," "Reagan conservative" or "George W. Bush conservative" labels and instead calls himself a "Roosevelt conservative." (That's Theodore and not Franklin, in case you were wondering)
There's nothing particularly objectionable here. Well, OK, that's not quite true; I'm a tax-and-spend liberal Democrat. Naturally I disagree with a lot of what McCain says in the interview. But there's not much in the transcript that offends me. It's a pretty standard series of Republican responses, though McCain seems more willing to accept an active federal government than some in his party would like.
There was, however, one exchange I found more than troubling. From the transcript:
Q: President Bush believes that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt children. Do you agree with that?
Mr. McCain: 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.
Q: Even if the alternative is the kid staying in an orphanage, or not having parents.
Mr. McCain: I encourage adoption and I encourage the opportunities for people to adopt children I encourage the process being less complicated so they can adopt as quickly as possible. And Cindy and I are proud of being adoptive parents.
Q: But your concern would be that the couple should a traditional couple
Mr. McCain: Yes.
Excuse my bluntness, but this position is cruel and loathsome, and the only thing more appalling than McCain's expression of it is the fact that it won't garner any real attention on the campaign trail. McCain seems to go out of his way to avoid supporting an outright ban on gay adoption, but there's no way to read that exchange as being anything other than completely hostile to homosexuals.
Adoption, by contrast, is not some sacred religious tradition tracing back through millennia. Adoption is a vital institution, but it is not one with a death grip on our soul. A ban on homosexual adoption falls under the same category as the older attempts to prohibit gays from teaching in public schools. At best, such a proposal comes from someone desperate to appeal to those ignorant enough to fear that a gay parent or teacher is inclined to acts of pedophilia. Far worse, and far more likely, is that such a proposal is fueled by hate and nothing else.
I'm not sure which is McCain's category. Later in the interview he expresses his distaste for gay marriage, but also says he considers it a state issue. (McCain did vote for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996) One hopes that President McCain wouldn't support a federal law banning gay adoption, though as far as I'm aware there's little to no talk of such a law.
The problem, however, is that President McCain would veto such a law not out of a respect for the humanity and decency of gay Americans, but because it violates his conception of federalism. In other words, the classic case of doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Based on this interview, it certainly seems like John McCain possesses the kind of distaste for homosexuals that has long poisoned American life.