Morality Flip-Flop? In May, McCain Appeased The Relgious Right. Now He Risks Their Scorn By Speaking To Playboy
Did John McCain (R-AZ) just bite the hand that might have fed him?
McCain is seen as a likely front-runner to be his party's 2008 presidential nominee. In an effort to appease the religious right, McCain in May spoke at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University -- four years after McCain blasted Falwell, along with Pat Robertson, Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton, as "agents of intolerance" who were "corrupting influences" in American politics.
It's a step one has to do to win during primary season. Republicans move to the right, Democrats move to the left, and hopefully, everyone moves to the center come November. (Note: It didn't work so well with the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ...)
But whatever steps McCain made to erase the long memories of Christian conservatives will now fly out the window, once copies of this month's Playboy Magazine begin reaching the populace.
That's because, in the same issue featuring a pictorial called "The Real Girls of Orange County," McCain is featured -- one of several people who penned articles about the Iraq War, and why we need to be there.
Can you say right topic, wrong venue?
Did McCain just commit the ultimately morality flip-flop? Did he destroy his chance at the 2008 Republican presidential nomination?
Not so fast. Conservatives have a ready-made answer, and ironically, it was provided more than five years ago.
According to a 2001 piece in the right-wing editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) chided Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) for implying that granting an interview to a magazine is "akin to advocating that publication's views."
Brownback, the Journal reported, reminded "Biden of Al Gore's Playboy interview."
Still, appeasing Christian conservatives wasn't a key part of Gore's 2000 campaign strategy. It appears to be a part of McCain's for 2008.
And the truth is, the words "Republican" and "Playboy interview" are not often uttered together. Do a Google search trying to link other 2008 Republican presidential candidates with their respective Playboy interviews is, for lack of a better word, hard.
Over the past decade, very few Republicans have sat down for interviews with the magazine. Several years before he became California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger gave several interviews. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson was interviewed by Playboy in 2000. Fox News Channel's Shepard Smith talked to the magazine this year.
But those guys aren't running for president.
Four years after the fact, McCain tried to make amends with Falwell. What can he do for an encore -- if anything -- before the 2008 primary season?