The Arizona Republican was asked for his reaction to any negative response to the joke when he arrived in Las Vegas for a fundraiser Thursday night.
“Please, I was talking to some of my old veterans friends,” he told reporters. “My response is, Lighten up and get a life.”
When reporters asked if the joke was insensitive, McCain said: “Insensitive to what? The Iranians?”
McCain’s reaction represents yet another flip-flop. When Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) botched a joke about military service last fall, McCain was among Kerry’s first and most vocal critics. McCain repeatedly said that even if Kerry was joking, he should still apologize.
Here’s McCain on ABC’s Good Morning America on 11/1/06:
McCAIN: Well, I’ve read and watched the statement over and over and I’m not sure how you could construe it that way, but if that’s the case, an apology is in order and we can move on. I have made a number of mistakes in my life, which I’d not like to chronicle all over again. But I’ve found that if you — if it is just a botched joke, then apologize and move on.
And again on Fox News on 10/31/06:
Well, my reaction is it’s hard for me to understand that [it was a joke]. But I’ll be glad to give Senator Kerry the benefit of the doubt. He should apologize.
McCain’s botched joke is actually probably less of a concern than his botched credibility.