Reinventing John McCain

| Tue Aug. 26, 2008 1:01 PM EDT

REINVENTING JOHN McCAIN....Eric Alterman listens to Tom Brokaw and can't believe his ears:

Discussing McCain's success in the Republican primaries, Brokaw attributed it to the candidate's "indomitable will," and opined that McCain won by simply being "the most authentic...he wasn't trying to reinvent himself."

This is not only wrong, but diametrically, screamingly wrong. It's not a difficult point — McCain won the primaries specifically by reversing himself on taxes, immigration, the religious right, and virtually every other issue important to the hard right. These policies were not only blazingly visible — Mitt Romney and others called him on it loudly during the Republican debates — but obviously destructive, as the last eight years have proven.

And yet, here is Brokaw saying of the candidate who by far has done the most to change his positions that McCain was "the most authentic...he wasn't trying to reinvent himself."

It is indeed a vast mystery. It's not just that McCain has changed a lot of his positions, it's the fact that he's so plainly changed them purely for the sake of political expediency. "Learning his lesson" on immigration in front of CPAC. Knuckling under to the Club for Growth on tax cut inanity. Demonstrating his right-wing bona fides to the Wall Street Journal editorial page by quietly watering down his energy plan into near uselessness. Embracing Jerry Falwell on the stage at Liberty University. ("Are you going into crazy base world?" asked Jon Stewart at the time. "I'm afraid so," McCain answered, in a rare display of naked honesty.)

McCain has been desperately pandering to the GOP base for the past two years, and he's been doing it perfectly publicly and with only the thinnest veneer of explanation. But I guess it's indelicate to mention it for some reason. After all, haven't I heard somewhere that he spent a few years as a POW during the Vietnam War?

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