That other time a politician talked about his gaydar


FILE - Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer  (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

Brian Schweitzer isn't the only politician to, for some reason, start talking about his gaydar.

Back in 2000, there was a small to-do about John McCain referencing his own gaydar -- though he didn't actually use that specific term -- while serving in the Navy.

Here's a little flashback, courtesy of AP:

On Monday, [McCain] told reporters he had served in the Navy with many gay men, though they had not told him their sexual orientation.

Asked how he knew, he said: "Well, I think we know by behavior and by attitudes. I think that it's clear to some of us when some people have that lifestyle."

Later in the day, he backtracked, saying rather that he had had suspicions and might have been told that certain men were gay. He made it clear that it was a private matter that he did not pursue.

Asked again about the issue Tuesday, McCain declined to expand. He said in the future he would answer questions on the topic simply by repeating his support for the current policy for gays in the military.

"I intended to say, 'don't ask, don't tell.' That's how I'll answer it from now on," McCain said after speaking to about 300 people in East Greenwich.

For McCain, though, the comments weren't much more than a one-day story. Even the Human Rights Campaign, which released a statement saying that such stereotyping is wrong, qualified itself by noting that McCain was friendlier to the gay community than other GOP presidential candidates.

"He is not as acerbic as [Alan] Keyes or [Gary] Bauer, and is more forthright than George Bush," HRC spokesman David Smith said at the time. "It all needs to be put in perspective."

Needless to say, though, musing about who acts or appears to be gay probably isn't a worthwhile pursuit for any politician. And that goes double when talking about specific people -- as Schweitzer did.

(h/t Karl Frisch)

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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