As Tim Cavanaugh wrote in a perceptive April 2008 piece, there’s a palpable “sense that even when public officials do get serious about illegal immigration, they’re really winking at the audience…. Rhetoric about immigration remains as passionate and hysterical as ever. And so government officials respond to the hysteria, but since they know in their hearts that the immigration crisis is a solution in search of a problem, they do so with a vain, affected quality that reveals the very condescension restrictionists find so infuriating.”

So it is that the same John McCain who in May 2010 campaigned to “complete the danged fence” is, three years later, saying stuff like this:

“There are some people that, if you and I built the Berlin Wall and had machine guns every fifty yards, then [they would say] that border would not be secure.”

On this subject, I certainly agree with John McCain (the 2013 version, anyway) more than double-fencer Michele Bachmann. But I also wish that instead of alternating between pandering and scorn for a conservative base that has become attached to the illusory goal of even 90 percent border security, McCain instead tried to forthrightly win arguments on facts, regardless of his temporal political needs.