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John McCain Can't Tell The Difference Between Autism And Down Syndrome, And Doesn't Care

John McCain managed yet another confused and angry debate performance on Wednesday night that will give the fact checkers days and days of work sorting out all the confused facts and other nonsense. One of the most silly of which was McCain's claimed new-found passion for autism. McCain claimed that Sarah Palin's young son suffers from autism. The truth is that he has Down Syndrome.

In his 26 years in Washington, McCain has never proven any real commitment to those with special needs. By contrast with his background as a civil rights lawyer, Barack Obama has championed the rights of many persons including those with disabilities and his campaign website features a detailed platform of providing both funds as well as legal reforms to remove educational and employment barriers to the handicapped and disabled.

The fact of the matter is that John McCain doesn't know the difference between autism, Down Syndrome, or any other major disability or challenge that many American families face or has ever proven any great commitment to these persons ever. If anything McCain has often voting with the Republican majority that killed funding to many special needs programs.

In fact, one organization, the Children's Defense Fund Action Council rates McCain as the worst U.S. senator for the needs of American children. McCain couldn't bring bring himself to impose a small tax on the murderous tobacco industry to pay for children's health care when he voted against the SCHIP bill for example.

And McCain was often too cowardly to take a position on killing the funding for many other issues involving children and instead "present" on a number of critical issues in his recent senate career. McCain didn't want to go on record hurting the needs of the disabled or other children with special needs, so instead took the coward's way out by an unusually large number of "present" votes because he knew that he was running for president and it would look better on paper than a series of "no" votes, such as McCain's cowardly pandering to the tobacco industry which is directly responsible for causing a number of serious health problems for infants and small children including SIDS, asthma, ear infections, respiratory infections, pneumonia and cancer.

It is no wonder that McCain cannot tell the difference between autism and Down Syndrome. Unlike Mr. Obama who has a clear record of support for those with disabilities and other special needs, McCain simply doesn't care that one disability is any different than any another. Autism only came up in Wednesday night's debate so that McCain could help to obscure his shabby little record in regards to 26 years of neglecting the needs of children and those with disabling conditions in Washington.

McCain's sudden claimed concerned for those with autism was purely political in nature. There was nothing genuine about it. John McCain's 26 years in Washington on children's issues is his real record, not some phony new found concern for children that he suddenly picked up on the way to the debate studio.

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Comments (9)


Paul: "McCain claimed that Sarah Palin's young son suffers from autism."

Transcript from the debate:

"And, by the way, she also understands special-needs families. She understands that autism is on the rise, that we've got to find out what's causing it, and we've got to reach out to these families, and help them, and give them the help they need as they raise these very special needs children.

She understands that better than almost any American that I know. I'm proud of her."

I missed it. Where does he state that Trig has autism?

Lee Ward:

I haven't looked at the transcript, but I recall McCain stating or implying that Palin had first-hand experience with autistic children. It struck me as odd at the time.... I knew Trig was a Down's Syndrome child.

Engineer, from McCain's comments regarding Palin it seemed pretty clear that he was making a reference to autism in Palin's own family, which does not exist. Further, with such a poor record of support for funding of programs to help children with disabilities, it was nonsensical for McCain to attempt to appear that his administration would suddenly change direction from 26 years of votes on children's issues. It was a cheap and misleading display of cynical politics to sway the debate audience, pure and simple.

My own younger sister was born with significant birth defects and required extensive medical care when I was a boy. I'm personally angered when some phony politicians falsely attempt to appear as champions for such children with disabling problems when their record clearly states otherwise. Her in Oregon, one Democratic state representative got my sister into nursing school when another school discriminated against her because of her condition. Some politicians actually help the disabled, and some like McCain do not.


He must have mis-spoken. I mean, you guys defended Obama to the death when he said he'd been to all 57 states, right? At least McCain cares about special needs kids. Obama would just kill the child and be done with it.


seriously kev? i highly doubt that mccain cares for special needs children, because if he did he would understand that there is a huge difference between children with autism and children with downs syndrome. yes we need to focus on helping ALL children with special needs, but these children are not interchangeable. i am not sure where you are coming from with the last comment but you are completely out of reality. sorry but this one is not going to be accounted for by saying he just misspoke.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

I just noticed that Paul's post is getting some traffic off of this google search page, which lists many others bloggers and news sources who feel McCain got it wrong.

People interested in learning the facts about autism and are welcome to listen to the free autism spectrum podcasts by Midnight in Chicago. They are located at www.mic.mypodcast.com


I am still undecided about who to vote for but I do find it amazing John McCain's new stance on children with special needs.I believe the only reason is because of his running mate.You never heard the subject mention by him until after he chose her.I have real issue with that.I also have issue with his running mate's warp sense of reality.Why won't she come clean with the report? Why does she fixiate on the fact she had a right to fire him? She did have a right but not for her own personal agenda.This way of thinking really scares me because as VP is she going to do what is right for our country and our people or is she only going to do things that serve her purpose?Why hasn't McCain said how he feels about this report?Or is his running mate's warp sense of reality rubbing off on him?In the next week my decision will be based on actions not words.Yes I am concerned with Obama's lack of experience but at least he doesn't dodge bullets either.I'm sorry but I feel McCain made the wrong choice as VP and that is what will sway my vote.I'm done being lied too and I'm done with people in power abusing it for their own special interests and agendas.We have had that for the last 8 years,I'm not dumb,blind or deaf.


I was enraged that McCain pandered to the families of special needs children. Look at his campain website - he has two paragraphs saying that he cares about children with special needs.

Look at Obama's website - he has a detailed plan outlining what he would do to help kids with ASD. His record in the Illinois senate shows him as an advocate for kids with special needs. Not only does he support research into the cause of ASDs but also has taken action to help our kids right now.

Because McCain has a running mate whose child has special needs does not make him an expert, an advocate, or even a concerned bystander.

The proof is in the pudding, folks. Look up their records, and then decide.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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