‘CLEARLY A TACTICAL OR STRATEGIC MOVE’…. McCain campaign officials argued yesterday that they have “underused” stories about John McCain’s past as a prisoner of war, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. With that in mind, perhaps it shouldn’t have been too big a surprise to see the presumptive Republican nominee respond to his multi-house flap by, once again, referencing his Vietnam service.

[CBS News’ Katie] Couric asked about McCain’s answer when Politico inquired about the number of homes he and his wife, Cindy, own. McCain referred the question to his staff, who said he had at least four. Records show the number could be twice that, depending on how you count the family’s properties.

“I am grateful for the fact that I have a wonderful life,” McCain said. “I spent some years without a kitchen table, without a chair, and I know what it’s like to be blessed by the opportunities of this great nation.”

Last week, a McCain campaign spokesperson made a similar argument, but this was the first time the candidate himself defended his gaffe by reminding us again of his days as a prisoner of war.

Now, we’ve already talked about how this excessive exploitation ultimately cheapens McCain’s experience, but Yglesias reminded me of a point that often goes overlooked: “[O]nce upon a time McCain was criticizing John Kerry for talking too much about Vietnam, saying he essentially invited the swift boat attacks by doing so.”

Quite right. In fact, it seems almost comical in hindsight, but four years ago, McCain chastised Kerry for reminding voters about his decorated service in Vietnam, saying the message is “clearly a tactical or strategic move,” adding, “I’m sick and tired of re-fighting the Vietnam War.”

I guess McCain got over his disgust, because he seems to talk about little else now.

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.