You can thank Fred for this, I guess. Look: changes of heart are always welcome, but when they’re this transparently calculated to help rescue a floundering campaign they’re not going to earn you much goodwill. He was Mr. Amnesty when he was the frontrunner; now that he has to carry his own bags, he’s a conservative again. Given that track record, why would anyone install him in a position of exalted power like the presidency where he’d really be free to screw us over?

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain on Thursday backed a scaled-down proposal that imposes strict rules to end illegal immigration but doesn’t include a path to citizenship.

The move away from a comprehensive measure is an about-face for the Arizona senator, who had been a leading GOP champion of a bill that included a guest worker program and would have legalized many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. It failed earlier this year…

Observers said McCain’s switch was political. “He recognizes his position on the issue is killing him,” said Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors vigorous immigration enforcement.

It’s too late.

Even today, the extent of McCain’s leftward shift during and after his last presidential run remains underappreciated. When he last ran for president, McCain denounced Bush’s tax cuts as unaffordable and unfairly tilted toward the rich. He described a GOP corrupted by business lobbyists and hostage to “forces of evil” like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. After his return to Congress, he went even further, championing a patients’ bill of rights despised by the HMO industry and the Bush administration; pushing through a sweeping campaign finance reform bill that Bush signed unwillingly; enraging the NRA by pushing legislation to close the “gun show loophole”; and sounding the alarm over global warming. McCain even contemplated ditching the GOP altogether. In 2001, he discussed with Senate Democratic leaders the possibility of joining their party and mulled an independent presidential bid.

That same TNR piece mentions presciently that while McCain’s shifting right on immigration, Mitt will be shifting left on the war. Is this the first tilt in that direction? Via greenmountainpolitics1:

That’s so vague and platitudinous that it’s hard to critique, but to the extent that he’s saying with the narrator thinks he’s saying — that a good progress report from Petraeus in six weeks means it’s time to pull back — then it sounds like he’s tilting towards a “let’s declare victory and go home” retreat. Petraeus’s long-term plan involves U.S. troops providing security in Baghdad and elsewhere until next summer, in no small part because the Iraqi Army isn’t yet up to the task. Maybe that’s Mitt’s plan too, but keep an eye on him possibly trying to inch towards the exit under cover of “we’re winning!” The eventual GOP nominee is going to have to inch that way too but let him at least be honest about what he’s doing when he does.