Jukebox John keeps changing his tune

JUKEBOX JOHN KEEPS CHANGING HIS TUNE…. John McCain was interviewed this week by a local CBS affiliate in DC who asked, “Where is the John McCain from 2000?” The Republican nominee rejected the premise.

McCain replied, “You’ll have to tell me what’s changed. I love it when they say, ‘Oh McCain has changed.’ And I say, ‘What have I changed on?’ They can’t name a single issue or they’ll name an issue and it’s false. I’m the same guy.”

The same thing came up about a month ago on “The View,” when co-host Joy Behar told him, “I don’t see the old John McCain.” He responded at the time, “I’ve been through this litany before, when I say, ‘OK, what specific area have I ‘changed’?’ Nobody can name it.”

I almost feel like McCain is taunting me personally.

Shortly after McCain started his campaign two year ago, I started noticing that he was shamelessly abandoning most of the positions he used to maintain. Soon after, I started keeping a list, and though I haven’t updated it in a while, at last count, McCain had flip-flopped on 76 different issues. In most instances, it was a reversal that led McCain to end up on the right, in order to help him win the Republican nomination and the support of his party’s far-right base.

“What have I changed on?” The real question is what McCain hasn’t changed on. The man has completely reinvented himself, fundamentally changing his economic worldview (more than once), his approach to foreign policy, how he perceives national security policy, how he deals with culture-war issues, even how he approaches signature issues like campaign finance reform.

The old McCain not only wouldn’t recognize the new McCain, it’s safe to say the old McCain wouldn’t even vote for the new McCain.

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Steve Benen

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.