Amid Right-Wing Tour, McCain Visits Anti-Evolution Group

For much of the last year, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) has been cozying up to the Right Wing, apparently in anticipation of the Republican primary campaign for president next year. In his 2000 run, he lambasted Jerry Falwell and James Dobson as “agents of intolerance” and he attacked opponent George Bush for speaking at South Carolina’s Bob Jones University, which at that time had a ban on interracial dating. This time around, he’s made amends with Falwell, he’s trying hard to win over Dobson, and he’s open to speaking at Bob Jones. And next week, McCain will have an opportunity to solidify his creationist credentials.

As ThinkProgress notes, McCain has an ambiguous record when it comes to science education. In 2005, he said that “Intelligent Design” creationism should be taught alongside evolution, but a year later, he said that creationism should “[p]robably not” be taught in a science class.

So while McCain’s upcoming address at a Discovery Institute lunch in Seattle is ostensibly about globalization, it ought to give him the chance to articulate his position on whether creationism belongs in public schools. The Discovery Institute is the most active promoter of “Intelligent Design” and increasingly the public face of creationism, working with school boards to undermine the teaching of evolution and sending fellows, such as young-earth creationist Paul Nelson, to present ID as a scientific theory.

If McCain were to stake out his decision on education policy based on science, he could do worse than to begin in his home state at the Grand Canyon, which the National Park Service notes is “a world-renowned showplace of geology” going back hundreds of millions of years but which has become a central front in the political debate surrounding evolution. If he makes his decision based on appeasing the Right Wing, he might find his anti-evolution position a difficult sell among the rest of the voting public.