In in an interview Saturday, Republican presidential candidate John McCain had this to say about faith and the presidency:I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles … personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faithHe immediately backtracked, going on to say:I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values.But still, this is ridiculous. How hard is this guy going to pander to the ultra-conservative element in the G.O.P.? Just because George Bush won the presidency with this approach doesn’t mean it is going to work for you, especially now that everyone hates Bush.It is astonishing to me how much I once respected him and how much he has transformed himself since around 2002.Michael Crowley had a great article on the transformation in TNR a couple months ago. In it he did a fantastic job describing what McCain use to be: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.It’s not surprising, then, that however hard McCain tried to repent, his heresies were simply too much for conservatives to forgive. But McCain also ditched the core component of his identity that made him a rock star in the first place: his reform crusade. Political reform defined McCain’s last candidacy; most inspiringly, McCain’s heart truly seemed in it. Even as his 2000 campaign fizzled, McCain publicly vowed that his crusade would continue “tonight, tomorrow, the next day, the day after that, and for as long as it takes to restore America’s confidence and pride in the practice and institutions of our great democracy.”Can you believe how big of a hack this guy is now?