WHAT RACE IS BROKAW WATCHING?…. One of the more discouraging elements of the current presidential race — and really, there are quite a few — is the way in which media figures haven’t noticed John McCain’s latest metamorphosis. They remember McCain from 2000, found him delightful, and assume he’s just the same ol’ guy eight years later.

To be sure, there are notable exceptions.

Time’s Joe Klein recently conceded last week that he was wrong to believe McCain is an “honorable man.” Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter also acknowledged in a recent column that he’s “misread McCain,” who, it turns out, is “a surprisingly immature politician” who may not be “ready to lead.”

But for every Alter who recognizes McCain’s painful shift into conservative hackery, there’s a Tom Brokaw who apparently hasn’t been paying any attention at all. Eric Alterman reports:

Discussing McCain’s success in the Republican primaries, Brokaw attributed it to the candidate’s “indomitable will,” and opined that McCain won by simply being “the most authentic … he wasn’t trying to reinvent himself.”

This is not only wrong, but diametrically, screamingly wrong. It’s not a difficult point — McCain won the primaries specifically by reversing himself on taxes, immigration, the religious right, and virtually every other issue important to the hard right. These policies were not only blazingly visible — Mitt Romney and others called him on it loudly during the Republican debates — but obviously destructive, as the last eight years have proven.

And yet, here is Brokaw saying of the candidate who by far has done the most to change his positions that McCain was “the most authentic … he wasn’t trying to reinvent himself.”

It’s hard to believe someone of Brokaw’s stature could say something so spectacularly dumb, in public, without any idea of how wrong he is.

I’ve been working on a project during the campaign, chronicling John McCain’s flip-flops. As of now, the grand total stands at 74 reversals, but just as importantly, the vast majority of the reversals were part of a coordinated effort to reinvent McCain in order to shamelessly pander to the Republican base, abandoning nearly all of the positions that people like Brokaw admired so much eight years ago.

As Kevin noted, “It’s not just that McCain has changed a lot of his positions, it’s the fact that he’s so plainly changed them purely for the sake of political expediency.”

Quite right. In order to con Republican voters into supporting his campaign, McCain reversed course on practically every pillar of the GOP policy agenda, including taxes, energy, the role of social conservatives, gun control, abortion rights, and immigration. No presidential nominee in modern U.S. political history has reinvented himself more than John McCain.

Of course, if McCain has Brokaw fooled, and Brokaw is a veteran journalist and the host of “Meet the Press,” imagine how easy it is for McCain to con the typical American voter who doesn’t have time to pay attention to the ins and outs of politics.

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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.