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

Yesterday, the Army Times explained that McCain was criticizing Obama for taking a position entirely in line with his own.

On Sept. 8, the Republican presidential candidate told a rally crowd in Lee’s Summit, Mo., about an Obama video message to a liberal advocacy group.

“He promised them he would, quote, ‘slow our development of Future Combat Systems,’” McCain said, according to wire reports. “This is not a time to slow our development of Future Combat Systems.”

Flashback to July, however, when his campaign furnished McCain’s economic plan to The Washington Post, declaring that “there are lots of procurements — Airborne Laser, [C-17] Globemaster, Future Combat System [sic] — that should be ended and the entire Pentagon budget should be scrubbed.”

In fact, McCain has long criticized the over-budget, behind-schedule FCS program. In 2005, he blasted the Army for allowing the program to balloon to $161 billion, and forced the service to rewrite the main FCS contract.

Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute told the Army Times, “Future Combat Systems is the centerpiece of Army modernization. However, McCain has been more critical of it than anyone else in the chamber. Obama has been much more detailed and thoughtful in his comments about future military investment than McCain’s very superficial statements.”

The Army Times asked the McCain campaign to explain the discrepancy. The campaign “did not return phone calls and emails requesting clarification.”

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.