MCCAIN AND THE ‘CONCEPT’ OF EQUAL PAY…. There was a fascinating exchange the other day between Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton (D) and former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow (R) on John McCain’s position on equal pay for women. ThinkProgress posted this great clip, and it’s well worth watching.

Farrow, a member of McCain’s “Palin Truth Squad” and a campaign surrogate, repeatedly emphasized the notion that McCain supports “the concept” of equal pay, regardless of what he does in practice.

I have no idea what this defense is supposed to mean. Adam Jentleson recently explained, “In April, McCain opposed a major Senate bill seeking equal pay for women…. In 2000, McCain opposed an amendment that aimed to ‘provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex.’ In 1985, McCain voted against a study to investigate pay differences among federal employees, and determine whether they were the result of discrimination.”

Indeed, after the ridiculous Supreme Court ruling in Ledbetter, McCain “dismissed the importance of equal pay, saying that women simply need ‘education and training‘” — as if employers who discriminate against women will stop if women have better credentials.

But don’t worry, McCain supports “the concept” of equal pay. He won’t vote for it, he won’t mandate it, and he won’t take a stand in support of it, but on a purely conceptual level, John McCain is right there with women nationwide.

Farrow — who, remember, is not just some random supporter, but who was actually speaking on behalf of the McCain campaign — concluded that McCain “is clearly supporting the concept, but he doesn’t want to tie the hands in ways that are more mandates on businesses in ways that won’t create jobs.”

I’m sure Americans concerned about equal pay for equal work will find that reassuring. McCain would love to support equality, but business interests aren’t sure it’s a good idea, so women will just have to suffer, taking solace in McCain’s “conceptual” support.

Who’s buying such transparent nonsense?

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.