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When you think about the stunningly dishonest ad John McCain is running, falsely accusing Barack Obama of not meeting with troops during his trip abroad and falsely accusing Obama of some scheme to deny money to the troops, you have to recall the breathtakingly unprincipled way in which McCain has been pursuing the presidency from the beginning. Jon Chait writes about the audacity of flip-flopper allegations coming from the McCain camp:

If one needs any final proof of the ridiculousness of this quadrennial exercise, it is the fact that John McCain has embraced the flip-flopper attack. John McCain! I've said this before, I'll say it again: This is a man who, in his quest to make himself an acceptable GOP nominee, reversed his political philosophy (crusading anti-business progressive in the Teddy Roosevelt mode); his political orientation (frequently siding with, and nearly joining, Senate Democrats); and almost every particular undergirding it (taxes, the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill, his own immigration bill, etc.). But if you actually think that flip-flopping is a sign of flawed character, and not just a handy partisan cudgel, then, sure, Obama might be slightly cynical, but McCain must be a dangerous sociopath.

And I might add his couple of years spent as a moderate Republican was, itself, a reverse from his earlier orientation as an orthodox conservative. And with recent reversals to try to bring his thinking on Afghanistan closer in line with Barack Obama's, the floppery's not limited to domestic policy either. He's a guy who really wants to win the election, and he's willing to adopt pretty much any policy position and launch pretty much any dishonest attack on his opponent that he thinks will help him get there. If that means totally fictitious ads about Obama refusing to meet with soldiers, then fine.

Photo by Flickr user marcn used under a Creative Commons license

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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