McCain reverses course on "rogue-state rollback"

In his latest flip-flop, McCain was for "rogue-state rollback" before he was against it.

Published April 16, 2008 4:01PM (EDT)

About a year ago, I started working on a list of John McCain's Greatest Flip-Flops, and decided to publish an update about once a month. I was concerned for a while that McCain would discover the importance of consistency and make my deadlines difficult, but so far, that hasn't become a problem.

ABC News reported a new one yesterday.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was less than forthcoming on Tuesday about "rogue-state rollback," a policy he championed during his 2000 presidential campaign.

"I wasn't saying that we should go around and declare war," said McCain. "I was saying that we nations of like values and principles and belief in democracy and freedom should make efforts to modify the behavior of other nations."

McCain's claim, which he made on Hardball's "College Tour," is directly at odds with the description of "rogue-state rollback" that the Arizona senator offered during his 2000 presidential campaign.

While participating in a Republican debate moderated by CNN's Larry King on Feb. 15, 2000, the candidates were asked: "What area of American international policy would you change immediately as president?"

"I'd institute a policy that I call 'rogue state rollback,'" said McCain. "I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically- elected governments."

He was, apparently, for "rogue-state rollback" before he was against it.

For those keeping score at home, this is #27 on my ever-growing list.

It's worth noting that there are worse qualities in a presidential candidate than changing one's mind about a policy matter or two (or 27). McCain has been in Washington for a quarter-century; he's bound to shift now and then on various controversies.

But therein lies the point -- McCain was consistent on most of these issues, right up until he started running for president, at which point he conveniently abandoned practically every position he used to hold. The problem isn't just the incessant flip-flops; it's the shameless pandering and hollow convictions behind the incessant flip-flops.

By Steve Benen

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