MCCAIN’S CRYSTAL BALL…. To hear John McCain tell it, when it comes to the Wall Street crisis, he deserves credit, not for taking steps to prevent it, but for knowing it was coming.

On CBS’s “The Early Show” yesterday, McCain said, “[T]wo years ago I warned that the oversight of Fannie and Freddie was terrible, that we were facing a crisis because of it, or certainly serious problems…. [T]he influence that Fannie and Freddie had in the inside-the-beltway, old-boy network, which led to this kind of corruption is unacceptable, and I
warned about it a couple of years ago.”

Evidence to support McCain’s gift of foresight is surprisingly thin. In fact, evidence to the contrary is much easier to come by.

ABC’s Jake Tapper found an interview McCain did in New Hampshire, shortly before the Republican presidential primary, on the seriousness and the dimensions of the subprime mortgage crisis. McCain conceded that he didn’t see the mortgage crisis coming.

“I don’t know the dimensions of this. It’s hard to know what the dimensions are…. [I]n this whole new derivative stuff, and SIBs and all of this kind of new ways of packaging mortgages together and all that is something that frankly I don’t know a lot about.

“But I do rely on a lot of smart people that I have that are both in my employ and acquaintances of mine. And most of them did not anticipate this. Most of them, I mean I can find some that did. But, a guy that’s on my staff named Doug Holtz-Eakin, who was once the head of the Office of Management and Budget, said that there was nervousness out there. There’s nervousness. There was nervousness that we had such a long period of prosperity without a downturn because of the history of our economy. But I don’t know of hardly anybody, with the exception of a handful, that said ‘wait a minute, this thing is getting completely out of hand and is overheating.’

“So, I’d like to tell you that I did anticipate it, but I have to give you straight talk, I did not.”

Funny, he seems to have a far different message now. I wonder why that is?

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.