Cindy McCain Takes a Shot at Her Husband Over Gay Ban

Appears in video condemning Don't Ask Don't Tell

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Cindy McCain preferred to play the role of the silent, smiling political wife when her husband ran for president two years ago. She didn't want to "get involved" in the campaign, and admitted "You can see the toe marks in the sand where I was brought on board." But now, she's getting back into the political game, publicly condemning Don't Ask Don't Tell, a policy her husband has led the fight to uphold.

John McCain led the filibuster to prevent a repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell this fall. In a video for the gay rights group NOH8, Cindy McCain appears alongside celebrities who say that federal policies discriminating against gays sends a message to high school bullies that it's OK to treat gay people poorly. "Our political and religious leaders tell LGBT youth that they have no future. ... They can't serve our country openly. ... Our government treats the LGBT community like second class citizens, why shouldn't they?" AMERICAblog's John Aravosis says he's impressed: "The woman basically accused her husband of sharing the blame for gay kids killing themselves."

  • What Happened to John McCain? Steve Clemons wonders at The Washington Note. "Some of his closest, long term advisers and friends are well respected gay lawyers and politicos. He knows that the military is packed with honorable gay men and lesbian women serving their country. I've personally heard him express appreciation for their service. But now he's the lead opponent in the US Senate of efforts to end Don't Ask Don't Tell -- and McCain who is probably in his last term in the US Senate is going to scar his legacy badly by making himself into one of those Senators who voted against the Civil Rights act... I want to express thanks to Cindy McCain for this brave and much appreciated message to bulliers everywhere and for her support of the gay men and women serving this nation... I can't imagine to know or understand the contours of their marriage. ... But I can't help wondering whether Cindy McCain misses her straight-talking, do-the-right-thing husband as much as I do."
  • Wrong Side of History, Washington Monthly's Steve Benen says. "I can't help but think there's something tragic about the conservative senator picking one last issue -- discriminating against gays and undermining military readiness during two wars -- to champion towards the end of his lengthy career. History will not be kind. Neither, apparently, will dinner conversations at the McCain household."
  • Cindy's Spoken Out Before, Nitasha Tike notes at Daily Intel. "This isn't the first time John McCain's wife has publicly campaigned against his policies. Earlier this year, she surprised NOH8 organizers by volunteering to pose for one of their photographs. But the video directly ties the culture of bullying and suicides among gay youth back to government policies, and it's Cindy McCain's words that point the finger at her husband."
  • Not a Candidate's Wife Any More, Noreen Malone argues at Slate. "What a difference two years makes. ... this is an open rebellion, one that undercuts a John McCain stance that, frankly, reads more like a desperate bid to remain politically relevant and important than anything else. The first time I watched the ad, I didn't recognize it as Cindy McCain. I thought overeager activists had confused the doll-like pearl-wearer with someone else. Gone is McCain's sleek campaign chignon, and in its place is a sort of spiky short 'do that makes her platinum blond hair and strikingly lined eyes look a little less Kappa Alpha Theta heiress and a little more Debbie Harry." Sometimes, Malone says, physical details matter, and "this haircut strikes me as particularly telling. Compared with his earlier influence, her husband might be a lame duck (effectively if not technically—John McCain's national candidate days are over), but that finally means that Cindy's wings aren't clipped."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.