While tooling around Iowa yesterday on the increasingly oxymoronic "Straight Talk Express," Republican Senator John McCain emasculated himself right before an audience of journalist spectators, one of whom happened to be the NYT's Adam Nagourney, who recorded the bloody details of the excruciatingly painful self-procedure.
Who suffered more -- Mr. McCain, his surgical assistants, or the reporters -- may be debatable, but suffering was indeed the nut of it, as the presidential candidate squirmed and hesitated but nevertheless proceeded to excise his manhood, right there, right there on the bus, in deference to the Christian right's vigilant eyes.
The complex and elective deballsification came somewhat unexpectedly in response to a reporter's simple question:
Should U.S. taxpayer money go to places like Africa to fund contraception to prevent AIDS?
"Well I think it’s a combination. The guy I really respect on this is Dr. Coburn. He believes – and I was just reading the thing he wrote– that you should do what you can to encourage abstinence where there is going to be sexual activity. Where that doesn’t succeed, than he thinks that we should employ contraceptives as well. But I agree with him that the first priority is on abstinence. I look to people like Dr. Coburn. I’m not very wise on it."
Mr. McCain could have, and should have, stopped right there, with his manhood intact, leaving the controversial matter in the capable and saving hands of the good Dr. Tom Coburn, who moonlights as a Republican U.S. senator with a sterling 100-percent Christian Coalition rating. But that level of approved perfection is impossible to achieve if one thinks for himself like a man, so the self-conscious Arizonan grabbed his crotch with one hand and reached for a scalpel with the other.
The squeamish may not care to read on.
Mr. McCain turns to take a question on Iraq, but a moment later looks back to the reporter who asked him about AIDS.
"I haven’t thought about it. Before I give you an answer, let me think about. Let me think about it a little bit because I never got a question about it before. I don’t know if I would use taxpayers’ money for it."
By now, however, the reporter smelled the coming blood. Poor Mr. McCain was slinking in his seat and splashing the Betadine on his privates like Aqua Velva.
What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?
"(Long pause) 'Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.'"
So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?
"(Long pause) 'You’ve stumped me.'"
Not quite. For Mr. McCain was actually in the process of "stumping" himself.
I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?
After some damn-the-torpedoes still-manly laughter in the face of self-mutilation: "Are we on the Straight Talk Express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it in the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian [his press secretary], would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it."
But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: "No, we’re not going to distribute them," knowing that?
(Long pause) "Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver [a senior adviser] to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before."
With that, it was over. Done .. with Mr. McCain now speaking a couple octaves higher -- a self-inflicted condition never to be reversed.
It is odd and sad, is it not, that the Christian right extols rugged manhood, but shuns all those who dare to behave with anything less than eunuch-like slavishness. It is even odder -- not to mention sadder -- when a real man, which John McCain indisputably was once, bows to its self-righteous demands for self-emasculation.
Goodbye, Mr. McCain. And if it's any consolation, at least in impotent retirement you'll be able to look back and recollect the precise moment at which you kissed your own goodies goodbye. You won't have to sit and wonder about why, when, where, and how you lost them.