Time's Ana Marie Cox Latest To Misrepresent, Gloat Over McCain Gaffe

John McCain thinks condoms don't stop the transmission of AIDS, don't ya know? I read it in the liberal strata of the blogosphere. Only, that's not exactly what the Republican Arizona senator said.

Blogger Ana Marie Cox of Time magazine's "Swampland" blog should know better, but she's only the latest to exult in McCain's interview gaffe with, and this is a real shocker, the New York Times's Adam Nagourney. [/sarcasm]

Cox began her March 21 post by pointing to a post in The New Republic's blog "The Plank":

Michael Crowley makes a point over at TNR's blog about McCain's senior moment regarding condoms (Do they prevent AIDS? “You’ve stumped me.”) and how his "old fashioned" bus-tour-talkathon is a bad fit with this whole "blogging" phenomenon:

Of course, as blogger Jon Quixote pointed out, when you read the text of the interview, it's pretty clear McCain was referring to contraceptives in general, not condoms specifically, when asked about preventing the spread of HIV.

Here's the relevant part of the interview:

Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”

Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”

McCain, agree or disagree with him, has not marketed himself as an expert on sex ed issues. And in the Nagourney interview he makes clear he needs to do more homework on the topic and promised to do so before answering Nagourney's query.

That's no matter to Cox, who found the McCain gaffe reason enough to accuse him of callous disregard for HIV/AIDS patients:

Was McCain's condom answer in fact merely a "kerfuffle" that -- as the Politico article Crowley points to says -- "a hiccup [that] would have perhaps been tucked deep into the final paragraphs of the full-length stories filed by reporters at the end of the day or the end of the tour"? I dunno. Why don't we ask some people with AIDS if McCain's ignorance of basic disease prevention was a "hiccup"?

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.