He contains multitudes

John McCain never changes positions. He just magically goes from position A to position not-A without ever changing.

Some people have expressed doubt that John Bottom-of-his-Class McCain has the intellectual wherewithal to function as President. But McCain seems to have some mental skills that others lack.

Any politician can change his position, either in the face of new information or under pressure. And any politician can remain consistent.

But McCain can adopt a position (for privatizing social security, against warrantless communications monitoring, against torture even if we don’t call it that) then adopt the opposite position (against privatizing social security, for warrantless communications monitoring, not against torture as long as we don’t call it that) without changing his mind. Whatever position McCain holds at the moment is the position he has always held, just as Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

This is an impressive feat, and McCain makes it look easy. Remember, though he’s a trained professional; don’t try it at home, kids. Some people have tied themselves in such mental knots they never got untied again.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com