Could This Be the Maverick at Last?


Wow, they still write articles like this:

It has been a very strange season in the political career of John McCain. The former maverick who once fought his own party on everything from tax cuts to torture, who built a reputation as a prickly independent, now marches in lockstep with his party, from his objection to Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court appointment to his support of a draconian new immigration law in Arizona that would have repulsed him three years ago. When Newsweek asked him whether a maverick would take such positions, he responded that he'd never considered himself a maverick. It all seemed to defy logic.

The New York magazine piece is actually better than that excerpt would suggest, full of telling little bits of detail, such as:

When Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's old seat and agreed to campaign for McCain in Arizona, McCain could hardly believe he needed a political neophyte from the Northeast to help him draw crowds in his own state, especially one who had declined McCain's invitation to campaign for him in Massachusetts (fearing McCain's Establishment taint). After a rally at Grand Canyon University, McCain was annoyed when Brown tried giving him campaign advice while they drove in a car together. Three nights later, Brown and McCain were scheduled to have dinner, but McCain canceled.

Ultimately, we are led down the well-trod path of McCain at war with himself, with political advisers serving as stand-ins for his conflicting personality traits, and the biggest bouquet of all landing at the feet of longtime McCain speechwriter and co-author Mark Salter–"an Iowa native with the brooding mien of a black-Irish poet and an abiding love for tragic literary heroes"–whose alienation from McCain's inner circle is the operating metaphor for a Maverick gone astray. And the piece seconds what The New York Times Magazine nominated earlier this month: Our favorite new Republican who trash-talks his party base while colluding with the administration maverick is McCain's old pal Lindsey Graham.

My Reason cover story and book on the topic.