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mccainfalwell2.jpgIn his interview with The New York Times over the weekend, John McCain took an unequivocal stand against gay adoption, a rare instance of him standing shoulder to shoulder with the Christian Right on a hot button social issue.
But the solidarity was short-lived. McCain’s communications director sent a message yesterday to blogger Andrew Sullivan, who is gay, softening the senator’s gay adoption stance:

“McCain could have been clearer in the interview in stating that his position on gay adoption is that it is a state issue, just as he made it clear in the interview that marriage is a state issue. He was not endorsing any federal legislation.
McCain expressed his personal preference for children to be raised by a mother and a father wherever possible. However, as an adoptive father himself, McCain believes children deserve loving and caring home environments, and he recognizes that there are many abandoned children who have yet to find homes. McCain believes that in those situations that caring parental figures are better for the child than the alternative,”

Family Research Council Action tweaked McCain last night–for the umpteenth time–in its daily email alert:

McCain’s Adoption Stance Hits Close to Home
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.

When it comes to dealing with the Christian Right or most any hot-button social issue, it seems that McCain never misses an opportunity to fumble. It’s not just that he parts company with the Christian Right on some major issues, it’s that he he’s so clumsy about it. Clumsy on the issues, in dealing with the movement, and on religion generally.
Three quick examples:
1. In his interview with Beliefnet last year, McCain suggested he would feel uncomfortable with a Muslim in the White House. Then his campaign called back to say a Muslim could be perfectly fit to serve in the White House.
2. McCain sought the endorsements of influential evangelical features John Hagee and Rod Parsley. Then he denounced them while welcoming their support. Then he abruptly threw them overboard without doing any damage control among Christian Right leaders, much to their chagrin.
3. McCain waited for weeks to react forcefully against the California Supreme Court’s recent decision to legalize gay marriage. In the eyes of the Christian Right, this was the most important court decision of 2008. McCain responded with weeks of silence, though his campaign wound up quietly lending support to the California group aiming to pass a gay marriage ban in the state.
It all creates of a portrait of a candidate who remains profoundly uncomfortable with the social conservative base of his own party. It’s one thing to be at odds with those voters on policy. But McCain’s ham-handedness in dealing with them at every turn–including, now, on gay adoption–is breathtaking.


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