Periscope Depth

insane in the membrane; insane in the brain

“Hey Professor,” you asked, “what are the four craziest things John McCain has said in the last month? Not just goofy or indicative of a radical political bent, but out and out deranged?”

And here I am to tell you:

#4: “Al-Qaeda Would Be Taking A Country.” Responding to a statement by Obama on February 27th, McCain said:

“And my friends, if we left, they (al-Qaida) wouldn’t be establishing a base. [...] They’d be taking a country, and I’m not going to allow that to happen, my friends. I will not surrender. I will not surrender to al-Qaida.”

Right. The predominantly Shi’ite Iraq is going to be conquered by fringe Sunni guerillas. I mean sure, it’s happened before, but they had the U.S.’s help that time.

Joe Klein from Time calls McCain out on his error in the link above, but makes the mistake of saying “McCain knows better. He knows the complexities of the world, and the region.” Joey, presuming that McCain knows the day of the week is wishful thinking.

#3: “There’s Strong Evidence Linking Thimerosal to Autism.” At a town hall meeting in Texas on February 29th, John McCain told a crowd of supposedly literate adults that “there’s strong evidence” that thimerosal (which used to be a common ingredient in childhood vaccines) is responsible for the rise in autism.

This is not true. There is no evidence to support such a conjecture. Anyone who says this or thinks this disagrees with the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the FDA, the Institute of Medicine and pretty much every doctor with a credible license.

#2: “You’ve Stumped Me.” I’m cheating a little, because this is a quote from an interview with McCain in 2007. But it came up in a 2008 op-ed, so I’m shoehorning it in. And if you’d like to argue that McCain has grown less senile and not more in twelve months’ time, I’ll entertain the argument.

Now, if McCain’s position were that abstinence education was the most effective way to reduce teen pregnancy and teen STDs, that’d be one thing. I happen to think that position is silly, puritanical and unsupported by anything empirical, but at least it’s a recognizable Republican talking point. At least McCain would be a voice of the establishment at that point, instead of a decrepit lunatic who shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

But! When asked what exactly he thought about sex education, on the spur of the moment, he had the following to say:

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?”

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?”

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

Not a “No, they make people more promiscuous.” Not a “Yes, but they encourage loose morals.” He just simply doesn’t get the connection. Do prophylactics reduce the spread of STDs? Hmm, that’s a puzzler! You might as well ask McCain what’s the difference between rhubarb and a pigeon in the attic? You’re just talking gibberish!

#1: “Al-Qaeda is Going Into Iran and Receiving Training …” For this one, I’m just going to quote the Times entirely:

Mr. McCain said several times in his visit to Jordan — in a news conference and in a radio interview — that he was concerned that Iran was training Al Qaeda in Iraq. The United States believes that Iran, a Shiite country, has been training and financing Shiite extremists in Iraq, but not Al Qaeda, which is a Sunni insurgent group.

Mr. McCain said at a news conference in Amman that he continued to be concerned about Iranians “taking Al Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.” Asked about that statement, Mr. McCain said: “Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.”

It was not until he got a quiet word of correction in his ear from Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who was traveling with Mr. McCain as part of a Congressional delegation on a nearly weeklong trip, that Mr. McCain corrected himself.

“I’m sorry,” Mr. McCain said, “the Iranians are training extremists, not Al Qaeda.”

Even if you believe that the war in Iraq is still worth conducting – and as insane as I find that, I know some people believe it, so I’ll take it for argument – how can you support a man so blithely ignorant of the basic facts of the matter? So willing to let fantasy and delusion rule his words? What would it take to prove to you that John McCain is delusional?

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