MCCAIN’S ‘CONCEPTUAL’ APPROACH TO GOVERNING…. John McCain, in an apparent first, answered questions from the Washington Blade, a publication for the GLBT community in Washington. It was, according to various reports, the first time a Republican presidential nominee had participated in an “interview” with a news outlet that caters to the gay community.

Except it wasn’t really an “interview.” The McCain campaign agreed to let the Blade send over written questions, and the campaign agreed to respond with written answers, presumably put together by a staffer. The president of the Log Cabin Republicans, boasting about the Q&A, told supporters that McCain is engaged in “unprecedented” “outreach to gay and lesbian voters.” That’s hardly an accurate description.

For that matter, the McCain campaign’s written responses weren’t exactly illuminating. The campaign gave vague and evasive answers to most of the questions.

There was one exchange, though, that stood out:

BLADE: Will you support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act if elected president?

MCCAIN: Gay and lesbian people should not face discrimination in the workplace. I’ve always practiced that in my hiring. I select the best people, regardless of their sexual orientation. I support the concept of non-discrimination in hiring for gay and lesbian people.

However, we need to make sure legislation doesn’t lead to a flood of frivolous lawsuits or infringe on religious institutions. What I can say now is I will give careful consideration to any legislation that reaches my desk, and confer with Congress before making decisions.

Hmm. McCain likes the “concept” of non-discrimination. If this sounds familiar, it’s because he also supports the “concept” of equal pay for women. This is hardly reassuring. McCain doesn’t like the concept of discrimination, but his philosophical beliefs don’t mean much if he’s not prepared to do something about discrimination in practice.

When we cut through the nonsense, McCain is, in many respects, even further to the right on gay issues than Bush/Cheney. After all, McCain has, over the course of this campaign, said he doesn’t believe gay couples should be allowed to adopt children; he opposes civil unions, even at the state level; he opposes otherwise-qualified gay Americans serving in the military, calling gay troops an “intolerable risk“; and he’s even told supporters that he could support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. McCain went so far as to suggest he couldn’t consider Michael Bloomberg for his ticket because the New York mayor is “pro-gay rights.”

It’s nice, I suppose, that he kinda sorta talked to a prominent publication for the gay community, but who in their right mind would believe McCain is tolerant on GLBT issues?

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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.