As I was growing up, one of the lessons I learned from my folks was that if you don’t lie, you do’t have to worry about who you told what, later. That lesson seems to apply well to John McCain.
Bob Novak  says:
As John McCain neared his momentous primary election victory in Florida after a ferocious campaign questioning his conservative credentials, right-wingers buzzed over word that he had privately suggested that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was too conservative. In response, McCain said he recalled saying no such thing and added that Alito was a “magnificent” choice. In fact, multiple sources confirm that the senator made negative comments about Alito nine months ago.
McCain, as the “straight talk” candidate, says things off the cuff that he sometimes cannot remember exactly later. Elements of the Republican Party’s right wing, uncomfortable with McCain as their prospective presidential nominee, brought the Alito comments to the surface long after the fact for two contrasting reasons. One was a desperate effort to keep McCain from winning in Florida. The other was to get the party’s potential nominee on record about key issues before he is nominated.
That was the background for conservative John Fund’s Wall Street Journal online column the day before Florida voted. Fund wrote that McCain “has told conservatives he would be happy to appoint the likes of Chief Justice Roberts to the Supreme Court. But he indicated he might draw the line on a Samuel Alito because ‘he wore his conservatism on his sleeve.’ ” In a conference call with bloggers that day, McCain said, “I don’t recall a conversation where I would have said that.” He was “astonished” by the Alito quote, he said, and he repeatedly says at town meetings, “We’re going to have justices like Roberts and Alito.”
I found what McCain could not remember: a private, informal chat with conservative Republican lawyers shortly after he announced his candidacy in April 2007. I talked to two lawyers who were present whom I have known for years and who have never misled me. One is neutral in the presidential race, and the other recently endorsed Mitt Romney. Both said they were not Fund’s source, and neither knew I was talking to the other. They gave me nearly identical accounts….
Novak goes on to relate the tale.
We have two possible answers to this, neither of which makes McCain look all that good. The first is the obvious age problem taking on the form of a practical objection… the old boy’s memory is slipping. The second is even less attractive; and Clintonesque in it’s style; McCain is relying on nobody being able to recall, much less find evidence of, positions he has taken previously which counter what he’s saying currently.
Addendum: (David L)
Clintonesque? Old B.J, new B.J. or Mrs.? In this hayday, B.J. used to be smooth and glibe liar. Now both B.J. and the Mrs. are just shrill liars. McCain has always been in the latter mode.
McCain’s style has always been to be savage with republicans but to be politite towards democrats It kept his standing up wth the New York Times. If McCain garners the nomination, the Times support is a lost cause. So will McCain resort to his republican, read savage, style with democrats? I think so.
This is McCain’s last shot at the prize, to which he thinks he is entitled. Expect McCain to campaign ugly to get what he feels he deserves.