Discussing Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) struggling campaign on Fox News Sunday today, Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes argued that McCain “needs to pay attention to the right.” “Here’s what he needs to do, he needs to touch on some of the social issues which energize the right,” declared Barnes.
Barnes specifically said that McCain is “going to have use” gays in the military and gay marriage as wedge issues:
BARNES: 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.
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.”
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.[featuredcomment]TP commenter Bilbo Hussein Baggins writes: “Recent polls show that bashing gays is no longer a wedge issue.”[/featuredcomment]