If you were a member of a conservative household in Florida last week, you might have picked up the phone and heard a recording that accused Mitt Romney of being soft on gay rights. The "robocall," as these canned communications are known, featured a woman's voice reminding voters that Romney once "told gay organizers in Massachusetts that he would be a stronger advocate for [their] special rights than even Ted Kennedy."
This was the sound of the John McCain campaign taking the low road. Ironic, but not surprising. Senator McCain learned a thing or two after Karl Rove masterminded a smear operation against him in the 2000 South Carolina primary. This year, who should McCain have hired to help run his campaign but the same Bush operative who orchestrated the whispering attacks against McCain seven years ago?*
Those robocalls in Florida were aimed at stirring up anti-gay sentiment among voters by pointing out Mitt's flip-flop on gay rights. Yet McCain's own record on the issue is not entirely flip-flop-free. Four years ago he called a constitutional ban on gay marriage "antithetical to the core philosophy of Republicans." Two years later, he told televangelist Jerry Falwell that if states didn't pass laws prohibiting gay marriage, he would back a constitutional ban.
It remains to be seen whether McCain's courting of the religious right will succeed. He may be sound on abortion and gay marriage. But his anti-Mitt robocall also stressed that America needs someone who will preserve "the sanctity of marriage." It's a bit rich that John McCain thinks he can out-marriage-sanctity Mitt Romney—who, after all, is still on his first wife.
To refresh your memory, here's a recap of the McCain divorce: While McCain was imprisoned at a Vietnamese POW camp, his wife Carol, a former model, was in a serious car accident. Her injuries left her four inches shorter, considerably heavier, and disabled -- not what McCain expected when he came home, himself still suffering from severe injuries. By his own account, he "ran around" for a while. Then he met a wealthy 25-year-old from Arizona with whom he began a steady adulterous relationship. Soon after, he dumped Carol, who had reared their three children while McCain was in prison. A month after the divorce was final, he married the heiress.
Hypocrisy seems to come with the territory of being a social conservative (examples supplied on request). But how rotten do you have to be to treat another person like this? People carry on about Bill Clinton's character issues, but, really, Slick Willie seems like a stand-up guy compared to John "Sanctity of Marriage" McCain.