What sense can we make out of the conduct of Cindy McCain, Senator John McCain’s wife?
In a celebrity video ad, posted online by a gay rights group called NOH8, Cindy McCain has properly linked the bullying of gay teens (and the recent spate of gay teen suicides) with the second-class citizen, undesirable human being status attached to gays by politicians who support the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Then, as the media began speculating about the policy rift in the McCain household, since Sen. McCain still supports the archaic, unconstitutional and unjust policy that forces gays to hide their sexual orientation or be deemed unfit for military service, Cindy McCain sent out a Twitter message that read:
“I fully support the NOH8 campaign and all it stands for and am proud to be a part of it. But I stand by my husband’s stance on DADT.”
The NOH8 campaign specifically opposes her husband’s stance, as did Cindy’s own words on the group’s video. This makes her support of either the anti-bullying campaign or her husband’s position as incredible and worthless as her absurd claim that she can simultaneously support both positions, though they are diametrically opposed to each other.
Is refusing to recant her earlier support of NOH8 while capitulating to her husband’s political needs less ethically offensive than a complete reversal? Not at all. I suppose it will make some critics less likely to assume that Sen. McCain threatened Cindy with dire consequences if she didn’t toe the line, but that is irrelevant. If Mrs. McCain wasn’t prepared to accept the predictable heat that would come from the press and conservatives for publicly opposing John, then she should have stayed on the sidelines. Now, she has made the otherwise excellent video ineffective, featuring as it now does a prominent spokesperson who has contradicted the sentiments she espouses. She does not really bolster her husband’s position with her support, since it appears to be the product of coercion and forced loyalty rather than honest belief.
She has also permanently demonstrated that she cannot be trusted or believed in anything she says regarding her convictions, reducing her ability to help any cause with an endorsement to zero. Cindy McCain did not care enough about the cause of gay Americans to remain steadfast in the face of controversy. She did not have the courage she pretended to have by making the video. She did not even have the courage to recant properly. She simply announced that supports both sides of the issue.
This is what a total absence of integrity looks like, America. Get a good look. We see glimpses of it from professional politicians and the government in Washington—Cindy McCain’s husband has specialized in it of late, as he sought re-election during a conservative wave—but the pros are usually more subtle, and the government’s two-faced conduct is typically well-hidden. Vice President Biden and Sen. Kerry, for example, claim to personally oppose abortion as the killing of an innocent human life, but still aggressively support the right of women who believe otherwise to end innocent lives in the millions, apparently because if you don’t believe something is a life, perhaps because doing otherwise would require personal sacrifice, then it isn’t. (Don’t complain to me: this is what the two Catholic politicians, and others, maintain as their position.) Republican deficit hawks want to eliminate the deficit, but refuse to raise taxes. The Department of Agriculture wants you to eliminate fat from your diet, but also wants you to eat more cheese.
It takes a non-politician, who isn’t trained in the ways of deceit and double-talk, to show exactly how ugly and inexcusable the lack of integrity can be. At least Cindy McCain gave us that. That’s something, I guess.
10 thoughts on “Cindy McCain Shows Us What the Absence of Integrity Looks Like”
A word in favor of Biden and USDA:
Biden’s stand is ethical. His religion teaches that abortion is wrong, but he’s unwilling to impose his religious beliefs on others. (I’d guess Kerry’s position is similar, but I don’t remember hearing him explain it).
About USDA: a huge and diverse government department can’t be ethical or unethical: only people can. USDA is required to follow the laws. One law requires promotion of Wisconsin’s dairy industry, another requires promotion of healthy eating. You can blame Congress for passing conflicting laws, but just like with USDA, the Congress can’t be ethical or unethical, only people can.
Diametrically contradictory policies are inherently unethical, don’t you think, Bob—if for no other reason than they undermine each other? Your explanation is valid, but it doesn’t undo the inherent dishonesty and damage to trust when the government sends mutually exclusive messages.
I’m sad and puzzled that you’re willing to buy the “I believe A but will publicly advocate “not A” position, Bob. I think it is both dishonest and inexcusable. In essence, what Biden is saying is that he TRULY BELIEVES abortion is murder, but doesn’t have the guts or integrity to use his position to oppose murder-enabling policies–so he gets political benefit by advocating what he believes is a moral outrage. How can this possibly be defended?
First, a religious belief is still a belief, if he believes it. Leaders always “impose” their beliefs—why is a religion-based belief to be treated differently from belief based on upbringing or education? Answer: it’s not—unless Biden’s claim that he believes abortion is murder is in fact NOT his real belief, but just a way to straddle the issue (and I think–indeed hope, that this is the case.) Hope, because while dishonesty for the purposes of political manipulation and expediency is bad, advocating and supporting what one honestly believes is murder approaches evil, and is certainly rank cowardice. Would we excuse an SS officer who said, “Genocide is contrary to my religious beliefs, but I won’t impose my beliefs on the German people.”? Would we respect him? Why is Biden or Kerry any different–from their own value system? Remember, it is THEY who are saying that they support murder. Never mind what I believe—if THEY do that with what THEY believe, I find them despicable.
That Cuomo Excuse, which both Kerry and Biden use, is as unethical as it gets. I’ve looked at this from many angles and for years, and the “I don’t want to impose THIS belief–involving the murder of innocent life according to my religion—while I WILL try to impose the beliefs of NARAL, because they give me money and I keep the 18-35 female vote” just stinks to high heaven—intellectually dishonest, inconsistent, cynical and cowardly.
I hate it.
I think it disqualifies any politician who uses it from public trust or personal respect. It is the indelible mark of a principle-free, untrustworthy weasel.
Thus I am sure that, once you think about it, you will agree.
First, the easy issue: I agree that mutually exclusive messages promote distrust of government. I just ascribe it to one more defect of our imperfect-but-better-than-any-other government.
About Biden, I agree that it would be unethical for someone who BELIEVES that all abortion is murder to side with NARAL. I just think that accepting religious dogma isn’t exactly the same as BELIEVING, for example, the first law of thermodynamics or that HIV causes AIDS.
Of course, I don’t know what’s in Biden’s heart. If he’s a BELIEVER, he’s unethical; if he’s just a generally accepting Catholic, then he’s not.
I’m sure you’ll agree.
I do….although I think he’s also unethical to fudge the issue by trying to appeal to believers by suggesting “I’m really in your camp” and then counter-suggesting that he’s being virtuous by not acting on those beliefs.
I think you’re inferring Biden’s heart-of-hearts position–as am I.
Personally, it both disappoints and disturbs me that anyone let alone Mrs. Mccain would think it “ok” to try and straddle the fence while wanting it both ways not to mention very illogical…As for bBden and Kerry’s so called hypocritical stance on abortion…
I dont find it hypocritical at all. They both seem to recognize that while they themselves may not be in favor of something, at the same time, they realize that they don’t have the right to make such a difficult decision for anyone else.
The views are not “so-called hypocritical” because I didn’t call them that. They DO in fact have the right to make laws proscribing conduct: that’s why they are called “lawmakers.” And we are not talking about choices—by their own terms, we are talking about murder. If I see something I believe is murder, and have the power to stop it, I have an obligation to do so. So do they. This isn’t about “choice.” One does not have a “choice” when a crime is involved…and what Kerry and Biden say they believe occurs in an abortion is indeed a crime. Why this is so hard to comprehend, I have no idea. But it has nothing to do with hypocrisy. It has to do with politicians saying that they not only tolerate murder, but encourage it, despite their beliefs that, if sincere, would demand the opposite action.
Coming from a borderline atheist and lukewarm pro-choicer, I’d say that their support of abortion IS hypocritical IF they genuinely believe that it constitutes murder, in the same way allowing Aztec or Roman-style human sacrifices would be hypocritical if I had said “I think these practices constitute murder, but it’s not in my place to push my beliefs on others.” Government in the first place is about pushing certain beliefs on others, whether it be as minimalistic and agreed-upon as “we don’t let you murder, steal, or rape”, or as expansive and controversial as “we have an obligation to help the least wealthy, so we’ll raise income taxes on people in the wealthiest bracket to 95%”.
Darn, after reading Jack’s post, I apologize for misusing the word ‘hypocritical.’
I think it’s probably within the broad definition of the word the way it is commonly (if erroneously) used, but I think hypocrisy understates the ethical offense.