Straight Talk Express No More

Steve Benen believes John McCain cannot win the Republican nomination after this exchange:

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. [Speaking to Press Secretary Brian Jones], 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.”

Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”

Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me [Sen. Tom Coburn’s] thing, ask [senior adviser John 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.”

We all know that many politicians take positions based upon what is politically expedient, but at least there is some pretense of actually believing what they say. I’m not sure which is worse–the standard Republican line of giving absurd answers that only a Republican could believe or pretending that after all these years in the Senate he’s never considered such issues. I’m not sure if McCain’s real problem is that he really needs to check with his handlers to find out what he believes, or that he realizes that the only answer that will please Republican voters is one that is totally counter to reality.

Kerry Calls For Extending FOIA to Support Bloggers

In a speech delivered to the New England Newspaper Association this afternoon, John Kerry spoke out about a strengthening the Freedom of Information Act to include support for bloggers:

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator John Kerry today announced his support for a legislative initiative designed to assist the freedom of the press. The bill would make the federal Freedom of Information Act more powerful, primarily by making it harder for the Administration to deny or delay the release of information. It does that by requiring that an agency respond to FOIA requests within 20 business days and establishes a publicly available tracking system for requests.

In addition, the legislation would help bloggers, because it would prevent agencies from denying them a waiver on fees just because they are independent or not affiliated with any institutional news organization. In the past, the need to pay fees for FOIA requests discouraged many bloggers or independent journalists from pursuing FOIA requests.

“There is no greater or more important watchdog today than our free press and we should all do everything we can to strengthen the ability of dedicated reporters to do their job,” Kerry said today. “Recent news reports on Walter Reed, the Big Dig, or even the US Attorney firings have reminded us just how important the press’s oversight is to our system of governance. In cases like those, exposure meant the difference between life and death. I am proud to sponsor this bill and look forward to voting on it when it comes before the full Senate.”

Trump Criticizes Republicans–Not For The First Time

Donald Trump’s criticism of the Bush administration in an interview with Wolf Blitzer has received some attention, but this is not the first time this has occurred. In an interview Friday Trump called Bush, “probably the worst president in the history of the United States.” On Iraq he said, “I don’t know if they’re bad people. I don’t know what’s going on. I just know they got us into a mess, the likes of which this country has probably never seen,” Trump said. “It’s one of the great catastrophes of all time.” He also said the best course of action would be to “declare victory and leave.”

Trump expressed similar sentiments in July, 2004 when he called the decision to invade Iraq a “brutal mistake.” Besides arguing that we should have never gone in, Trump never fell for the claims that the war was to fight terrorism. “No matter how much you hate Saddam Hussein, and obviously he was a horror show, he kept terrorists out of Iraq,” Trump argued.

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer in 2004 Trump also had favorable things to say about Democrats as opposed to Republicans and the economy:

BLITZER: Do you identify more as a Democrat or Republican?
TRUMP: Well, you’d be shocked if I said that in many cases I probably identify more as Democrat. And I think you’d probably be shocked…
BLITZER: On social issues?
TRUMP: You know, it’s interesting, I’ve been now around long — you know, I think of myself as a young guy, but I’m not so young anymore. And I’ve been around for a long time. And it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans. Now, it shouldn’t be that way. But if you go back, I mean it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats…
BLITZER: Well, it certainly did well under Clinton. But I wouldn’t suggest it was so great under Jimmy Carter.
TRUMP: That’s true. That’s true.
BLITZER: If you remember, the interest rates…
TRUMP: No, I know. I know. Jimmy Carter was not in the same thing.
But certainly we had some very good economies under Democrats, as well as Republicans. But we’ve had some pretty bad disaster under the Republicans.
BLITZER: You want…
TRUMP: Including a thing called the Depression.