Until recently, McCain opposed his "top priority"

McCain vows to support an immigration bill he recently vowed to oppose.

Published June 30, 2008 4:52PM (EDT)

It's striking the extent to which John McCain's campaign is premised on the deep, unyielding hope that voters aren't paying attention to the campaign at all. It very well might work, but it's kind of annoying to think the man who wants to lead the nation thinks we're all a bunch of ignorant dolts.

Over the weekend, McCain spoke to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) in D.C. and tried to play the audience for fools.

Asked whether he would pursue a comprehensive immigration reform measure, beyond just enforcement, in his first 100 days in office, McCain said, "It would be my top priority yesterday, today and tomorrow." He added that his position hasn't been "very popular ... with some in my party."

Well, no, Republicans didn't care for his legislation at all -- which is why he announced his opposition to his own bill.

Over the weekend, however, he pretended that recent events no longer exist in this reality, and said the secure-the-borders-first approach that he promised Americans he'd pursue as president is no longer his policy.

I can't begin to imagine how anyone, on any side of this issue, can trust Jukebox John's word anymore. He changes his tune all time.

Here's McCain seven months ago, promising not to support comprehensive immigration reform:

"I understand why you would call it a, quote, shift," McCain told reporters Saturday after voters questioned him on his position during back-to-back appearances in this early voting state. "I say it is a lesson learned about what the American people's priorities are. And their priority is to secure the borders."

And here he is four months ago, again promising not to support comprehensive immigration reform:

[I] have pledged that it would be among my highest priorities to secure our borders first, and only after we achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure, would we address other aspects of the problem in a way that defends the rule of law and does not encourage another wave of illegal immigration.

And here he is two months ago, again promising not to support comprehensive immigration reform:

As the recent immigration debate demonstrated, Americans have little trust that their government will honor a pledge to do the things necessary to make our border secure. As president, I will honor that pledge by securing the border, thus strengthening our national security. I will also require that, among other things, border-state governors certify that the border is secure before proceeding to other reform measures.

McCain felt so strongly about this, he told a national television audience earlier this year that he'd vote against his own bill if it came to the Senate floor.

For Republicans, this is among the most important issues, if not the most important domestic policy issue. And yet, here's the Republican nominee, running on a platform of consistency, breaking his word.

I wonder, how are voters supposed to know which McCain promises they should take seriously, if he changes his mind depending on the audience?

By Steve Benen

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