John McCain

McCain and the M-Word


In a Newsweek interview that people are having a good chuckle over, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says this:

I never considered myself a maverick.

Nope, never:

Note subhed

That said, the main takeaway from the Newsweek article is not about John McCain, it's about Newsweek. In a piece that details at length the senator's many changes of position over the years, what do you think the subhed is? "A maverick fights for his political life—and his soul." The accompanying photo gallery is called "A Maverick's Path." Here's the rhetorical question festival trying to pass itself off as a nut graf:

If McCain's onetime mentor, Barry Goldwater, could write The Conscience of a Conservative, McCain could pen The Machinations of a Maverick. His dramatic shifts raise several questions: How much of his maverick persona over the years has been real and how much simply tactical? Is he in the midst of some struggle for his soul, or is this evolution simply the latest example, dating back to his days at the Hanoi Hilton, of McCain doing whatever it takes to survive? Is the anger people sense in him anger at Obama, or the American electorate, or fate, or himself? And if, as seems likely, John McCain goes on to serve another term, which John McCain will it be?

If nothing else, this demonstrates the indelibility of great political branding. No matter what their track records and personal lives demonstrated to the contrary, Teddy Kennedy was the Champion of the Little Guy, Newt Gingrich was/is an Ideas Man, and Ronnie Ray-gun was a one-man Government Reducer. It will ever be thus. 

If you want an entertaining snapshot of the McCain/J.D. Hayworth race, this recent column from George Will is one place to start. If you want a relevant book for as low as 52 cents, click here. And as always, the man was considerate enough to warn us in advance. From the book pictured above:

Never gets old

I'm sixty-four years old as we begin this book, which seems a bit old to be routinely described as a maverick. American popular culture admits few senior citizens to its ranks of celebrated nonconformists. We lack the glamorous carelessness of youth and risk becoming parodies of our younger selves. Witnessing the behavior can make people uncomfortable, like watching an aging, overweight Elvis mock the memory of the brash young man who had swaggered across cultural color lines.

I fear many things, but only few things more than appearing ridiculous. And my chest does not swell with pride when I encounter every reference to "Senator John McCain, the maverick Arizona Republican," even when it is meant as a compliment. I worry that the act might be getting a little tired for a man of my years. Better for old men to be known as collegial team players, who expect to find in the warmth of their associations a tonic for fears of approaching infirmity and extinction.

Lest you wonder if the above passage reflected a genuine distancing from the term back in those will-he-jump-the-GOP? days of 2002, note that the chapter in which he details all his bucking of Republican orthodoxy on issues from cigarette taxes to campaign finance reform is entitled "Maverick."

NEXT: Michelle Obama Replaces Easter Candy With Hand-Washing Stations; Solidifies Position as Nation's Leading Noodge

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If you want a relevant book for as low as 52 cents…

    $.52? Dammit, I paid $1.46 a month ago. What a ripoff.

    1. Hell, if you paid fiddy-two cents, you got ripped off:

      41 used from $0.01

      Soon people will be paying you to take Myth of a Maverick off their hands.

  2. Shipping included?

    1. I bought it with some other books and got Super Saver ? shipping.

  3. Why in the world would McCain want to lose the ‘maverick” appelation now??? – he believes running as a party aparachak is auspicious?
    Really seems flaky, and just not to smart.

  4. Maybe the Vietnamese had a good reason for beating him.

  5. Here’s the rhetorical question festival trying to pass itself off as a nut graf…

    “Nut graf”? Anybody have a journalist-to-reader dictionary?

    1. “Nut paragraph,” or thesis-statement bit.

      1. Danke!

  6. Is it really called Worth The Fighting For? So emo.

    Anyway, cheap shot. You know he didn’t write (or read) that book.

    1. I got a good laugh out of this entire comment. Thank you.

    2. Evidently, being a Maverick includes embracing dangling prepositions. How outrageous!

  7. “And if, as seems likely, John McCain goes on to serve another term, which John McCain will it be?”

    Who cares? And who writes this crap?

    1. Which John McCain will it be? At his age, probably Zombie McCain.

      1. I support his plan to make all school lunches contain brains, but what is he going to do for a working zombie who is struggling to put brains on his table?

  8. Keep looking for those strawberries, Queeg.

    1. I laughed the most at this comment!

  9. McCain’s “dramatic shifts” don’t remind me of Lincoln’s “wiser man:”
    “That a man may rightfully be wiser to-day than he was yesterday…that he may rightfully change when he finds himself wrong.” McCain, and other flip-floppers, should always have the decency to say, “Yes, I once believed that. I was wrong. I now believe this because……”

  10. Putting on the “spoilsport” hat… You have to be fairly dim or naive to think that John McCain personally wrote the blurb on the dustjacket of his book. Seriously, do the writers at Reason not have any experience with how publishing works? He may not have even known it was there, for all we know. (That’s not a joke about his mental state…honestly.) That sort of stuff gets written by some editor. Hell, even the blurbs like “The greatest novel of its time. — J. Otherfamous Author” are written by somebody else, who then just asks J. Otherfamous Author to approve it.

    1. Writers have input on book and chapter titles. Also, Google “Original Maverick” to see a handy campaign vid McCain 2008 made during the homestretch. The public record does not lack for examples of McCain using and embracing the term.

  11. McCain is now denouncing his being “The Maverick”, bullshit! Unfortunately, us Arizonans will be stuck with McCain for at least six more years. The only real challenger is that jackass, big government loving weasel-JD Hayworth. That right-Mr. Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit himself.

    I wonder how much money Jack Abramoff has given to Hayworth this time around?

  12. From Will:

    Hayworth is supported by Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County’s showboating sheriff, a scourge of illegal immigrants.

    Isn’t this a lovely election…

    1. Gawd, I know. I would love to have gotten rid of McCain, but jeebus, Sheriff Joe’s favorite promoter of the welfare state?

      The stupid, its weapons-grade.

  13. I preferred Garner in Rockford Files. Very underrated show.

  14. I liked him just as well in both shows.

  15. I guess with the book cover evidence here, McCain needs to disavow the “straight talker” moniker too.

  16. George Washington could not tell a lie. Bill Clinton could not tell the truth. John McCain can not tell the difference.

  17. McCain looked strange with hair on his head.

    As an actual Arizona voter, I find the choice of McCain vs. Hayworth about as inspiring as the prospect of listening to a Billy Joel box set. I hate Billy Joel but at least he never tried to pick my pocket or wreck the 1st Amendment.

    I even have odd urges to run for office myself, a truly insane thought.

    Excuse me while I throw up…

  18. I just moved to Arizona, so I made this “I’m a maverick,” montage (which also happens to feature me accidentally getting poked by a cactus).

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.