McCain’s Non-Litmus Test “Litmus Test”

It looks like the Right finally got what it wanted when the issue of abortion worked its way into last night’s debate and was tied to the issue of the future of the Supreme Court, to boot. 

Of course, John McCain stepped all over what should have been his golden opportunity to appease the Religious Right by immediately bringing up his role in the “Gang of 14,” which is something for which they still have not forgiven him. 

But when he finally got back on track, he reverted to the standard Republican line that he would never have a “litmus test” for his Supreme Court nominees regarding Roe v. Wade but would instead find nominees with a “history of strict adherence to the Constitution and not legislating from the bench.”

Since McCain refused to apply a “litmus test” to potential nominees, moderator Bob Schieffer logically took that to mean that he might be willing to consider someone who “had a history of being for abortion rights,” to which McCain replied that he would do no such thing:

MCCAIN: I would consider anyone in their qualifications. I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test.

So McCain could not appoint an abortion rights supporter because that would conflict with his commitment to naming judges with a “history of strict adherence to the Constitution.”  Of course, the whole question of reproductive rights is whether or not such rights are protected by the Constitution.  McCain clearly doesn’t believe that they are … but by hiding behind the phrase “strict adherence to the Constitution” he gets to absurdly pretend that he’s not applying a dreaded “litmus test” when, in fact, that is exactly what he is doing.  

McCain should at least be honest about it and tell the nation what he told Gary Bauer back in 2000 that led Bauer to endorse him over George Bush:

Somewhat surprisingly, McCain had the support of Gary Bauer, the social conservative, who had dropped out of the race by that time. “I wanted a commitment from either George Bush or John McCain that if elected he would appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court,” Bauer told me. “Bush said he had no litmus test, and his judges would be strict constructionists. But McCain, in private, assured me he would appoint pro-life judges.”

Of course, Bauer denies this now, saying that McCain merely promised him judges who would not be activist; a claim which is just as bogus as McCain’s “no litmus test” dodge.