MCCAIN MOVES THE GOAL POSTS…. A couple of months ago, when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) led the charge to kill “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, he specifically relied on a Pentagon survey on the issue. How, McCain said, could Congress possibly act before lawmakers know the results? Don’t senators care what active-duty and reserve troops, as well as 150,000 family members, have to say?

Well, we now have a pretty good sense what the survey results show: most of the men and women in uniform are fine with ending DADT. By one account, more that 70% of respondents to the Pentagon survey said the effect of repealing the existing policy would be positive, mixed, or nonexistent.

Noting the attitudes of those in the military, the Washington Post editorial board said today, “The last possible rationale for maintaining the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy appears to have been pulverized.”

One would certainly like to think so. McCain, meanwhile, has decided to move the goal posts.

McCain (R-Ariz.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Sunday that he did not think the Senate should lift the ban during the lame-duck session that begins this week.

“Once we get this study, we need to have hearings. And we need to examine it. And we need to look at whether it’s the kind of study that we wanted,” McCain said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

This is genuinely pathetic. Note the evolving excuses McCain has used to justify his anti-gay attitudes:

We can’t repeal DADT until the Secretary of Defense says it’s a good idea. Oh, he does?

Well then we can’t repeal DADT until the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff says it’s a good idea. Oh, he’s on board, too?

Well then we can’t repeal DADT until we’ve surveyed servicemen and women, asking their opinion on the policy. They’re fine with repeal, too?

Well then we can’t repeal DADT until we’ve studied the survey results for months.

Whether McCain realizes how foolish he looks or not, this is transparently ridiculous. The senator would be better off dropping the incoherent pretense and simply acknowledge what’s plainly true: he doesn’t want gay servicemembers, and no amount of evidence will change his mind.

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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.