07/18/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Another Gaffe: McCain Unsure Whether Condoms Prevent STDs

With many observers amazed that John McCain doesn't know where he stands on the issue of health plans covering birth control as they do Viagra (he doesn't support it, despite advisor Carly Fiorina saying otherwise), it raises a question of just how well does McCain know where he stands on other important issues.

Last spring, when McCain was pretty much ignored as a serious Republican primary candidate, he offered this remarkable response on whether condoms prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases, during questioning about his position on public funding for contraception to help stop the spread of AIDS in Africa:

The bus had been rolling for a half-hour and McCain was holding court on everything from Iraq to college basketball. ("Who woulda thought? VCU," he exclaimed upon boarding.) And then someone asked about public funding for contraception in Africa to prevent the spread of AIDS.

"I'm sure I've taken a position on it in the past," he stammered as he looked to his communications director. "I'm sure I'm opposed to government funding."

Sensing a vulnerable moment, reporters kept the questions coming. What about sex education in the schools? Should it mention contraceptives? Or only abstinence, like President Bush wants?

"I think I support the president's present policy," he said, tentatively.

More questions: Do condoms stop sexually transmitted disease?

A long pause.

A stern look.

"I've never gotten into these issues or thought much about them,"
he said, almost crying uncle.
(emphasis added)

If the media, which remains ga-ga over McCain would do some research (God forbid), they'd find other very disturbing examples of McCain not having a clue where he stands on similar issues. During his last run for president, McCain was asked what he would do if his then 15-year-old daughter got pregnant:

"Obviously I would encourage her to bring, to know that baby would be brought up in a warm and loving family, but the final decision would be made by Meghan with our advice and counsel."

Funny thing is that Mr. Pro-Life offered the Pro-Choice answer.

Within hours, his campaign went into high-gear to modify his comment, only to anger both the left and right.

Sadly, the media seems to care little about pressing what the Maverick knows about his own positions when he apparently doesn't know it. I suppose we should be understanding that such slips happen to someone of his unquestioned stature, despite the near-frenzy we see when Barack Obama, or a surrogate, offers the slightest hint of a gaffe.

But back to McCain and his own record.

With less than four months from the general election, we know that McCain is unsure whether health plans should offer birth control (he doesn't). He's also not sure about whether condoms prevent STDs (they do) or whether we should spend federal funds to provide contraception in Africa to prevent AIDS (of course). He's not sure whether he supports President Bush's abstinence-only education policy (he does). He thinks he's pro-life but then says a 15-year-old should have the final decision on whether to have an abortion (until his staff tells him he doesn't).

And this man thinks women who support Hillary Clinton will find a nice home in his campaign?