MCCAIN WAS AGAINST FCS BEFORE HE WAS FOR IT…. Following up on an item from yesterday, John McCain decided this week to start taking on Barack Obama over military spending, chastising Obama yesterday for having the audacity to support “slow[ing] our development of Future Combat Systems”

The criticism might be more compelling if McCain hadn’t also lashed out at the Army’s bloated Future Combat Systems modernization program. Noah Shachtman explained last night that McCain was blasting Obama for taking the same position McCain has held for years.

As Blake Hounshell notes (and as the Obama campaign confirms) the Illinois senator was “referring to Future Combat Systems (FCS), the controversial, $200 billion Pentagon procurement program, rather than ‘future combat systems’ as a generic concept.”

McCain is, of course, extremely familiar with FCS, the Army’s effort to revamp soldiers’ networks, robots, and fleets of ground vehicles. Not only is it the biggest modernization project in the Army’s history. But in 2006, McCain held hearings on the program — specifically, on the shady deal between Boeing and the Army for FCS. Somehow, the contract (then estimated to be worth a mere $128 billion), was put under the federal regulations that control the purchase of “off-the-shelf” items, like Microsoft Word. Which meant next-to-no government oversight. The massive contract was being overseen by the contractors themselves — a classic case of the fox watching the henhouse.

McCain tore into the deal, regardless — another example of the Arizona senator’s long, long history of exposing waste, corruption, and pork in the Pentagon budget. He was warned that any changes to the contract might delay FCS. McCain pushed for ’em, anyway.

So, by going on the attack yesterday, was McCain abandoning his previous position? And if so, why?

More often than not, it seems McCain gives up on reason and consistency altogether when he goes on the offensive, and just hopes no one notices. It’s kind of sad to watch, actually.

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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.