Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes went on Fox News yesterday to urge John McCain to start gay bashing if he’s going to win in November. On which campaign wedge issues McCain should use, Barnes said:
“In particular, gays in the military for one. We know Barack Obama is for allowing gays in the military, and Bill Clinton tried to do, but backed off. This is not a popular issue. Gay marriage is another one. These are both issues that I think McCain’s going to have to use. You can’t ignore the right. If he does, he’ll lose.”
Think Progress responds:
Barnes is advocating that McCain embrace the well-worn right-wing tactic of discriminating against the LGBT community for electoral gain. But he has his facts wrong when he claims that letting gay men and women serve in the military “is not a popular issue.” Polling consistently finds that the public supports allowing openly-gay people to serve in the military. In fact, that support is growing even stronger with time:
The poll also finds less opposition to gays serving openly in the military and a greater public willingness to allow gays to adopt children. A 60% majority now favors allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, up from 52% in 1994, and 46% support gay adoption, up from 38% in 1999.
It wouldn’t be shocking if McCain takes Barnes advice, especially since his chief strategist, Charlie Black, has previously acknowledged the use of gay issues as a wedge. It’s “a game of margins” that “could make a difference,” Black told the New York Times in 2006.