Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 5, 2010

'I NEVER CONSIDERED MYSELF A MAVERICK'.... To say that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) built his most recent persona -- the latest in a series -- around the notion of being a "maverick" would be a dramatic understatement. The "m" word was practically a verbal tick for McCain -- he'd use it constantly, whether it made sense or not, similar to the way Rudy Giuliani would mutter "9/11" at random moments throughout his day.

In 2008, McCain's television ads described him as "the original maverick." When McCain and Sarah Palin would routinely take different positions during their national campaign, aides insisted this was to be expected from "a couple of mavericks." A quick search of McCain's Senate website turns up several dozen references to the senator being a "maverick" -- in some cases, press releases, instead of quoting McCain by name, would simply note, "The Maverick said..." McCain's website for his Senate campaign does the same thing, using "McCain" and "Maverick" interchangeably, as if they were practically the same word.

The point, of course, was to create a McCain brand, of sorts, characterizing the conservative senator as the kind of politician who doesn't mind bucking his unpopular party from time to time.

That persona, however, no longer suits McCain's purposes. So, it's been scrapped.

Many of the GOP's most faithful, the kind who vote in primaries despite 115-degree heat, tired long ago of McCain the Maverick, the man who had crossed the aisle to work with Democrats on issues like immigration reform, global warming, and restricting campaign contributions. "Maverick" is a mantle McCain no longer claims; in fact, he now denies he ever was one. "I never considered myself a maverick," he told me.

I knew McCain was shameless. I knew he had few, if any, core beliefs. I knew he'd abandon any of his so-called principles at a moment's notice, and flip-flop on every imaginable area of public policy.

But I never thought I'd actually see McCain say, "I never considered myself a maverick."

It's as pathetic a political display as anything we've seen in quite a while. All of those political reporters who worshiped McCain circa 1999 should probably pause right about now, and appreciate the extent to which they fell for a con.

Steve Benen 1:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (50)

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Comments

Maybe he'll get booked on a Sunday morning show so he can explain further.

Posted by: Stuck with "Big John" Cornyn on April 5, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

No McCain is a serial flip flopper, just name one thing he has not been on all sides of - depending on who is listening.

Posted by: JS on April 5, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Instead of referring to them generically, how about naming the big reporters who fell for the line.

Posted by: urban legend on April 5, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad. I believe he fed those lemmings copius amounts of good food as well as the sizeable b.s. crap. Congratulations to the MSM whom ate both with the same degree of aplomb. Nauseating on both accounts...

Posted by: stevio on April 5, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm. Reminds me of that guy who said "I am not a crook..."

Posted by: dalloway on April 5, 2010 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

What a mavericky thing to do!

Posted by: Rob_in_Hawaii on April 5, 2010 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

while it is true that McCain was never a maverick, he has often called himself one.

Posted by: Jamie on April 5, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Ballshimers!

Posted by: joyzeeboy on April 5, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, cut the Confused Old Man a break: He saw Top Gun, and thought it was a biopic. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 5, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, so now can we all agree he's just senile?

Posted by: SaintZak on April 5, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

There is no corner too sharp to turn, no inconsistency or contradiction to be outright denied, that is too much for the modern-day conservative/republican/wingnut to overcome.

This Big Lie is now their modus operandi.

It is very hard to see where this fakery leads in terms of the future of democracy. The oft-gentle truth cannot resist The Big Lie, especially when the media act like The Big Lie doesn't exist, just some unfortunate or transitory difference of 'opinion'. When fact and opinion are made equivalent, then democracy will be ready for cremation. Warm up the ovens!

Posted by: JimPortlandOR on April 5, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, faced with torture, McCain betrays himself.

Posted by: Tom Parmenter on April 5, 2010 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Specifically, the "Long Con"-- you not only take all the money the mark has on him, you then send him home to get the rest of it.

Posted by: MattF on April 5, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

The con they all bought into is particularly egregious because he never was a maverick, he was just a dick (and continues to be one.) His "maverick" moves against his own party that made him the darling of the Beltway press were actually driven by his bitterness at the way he was treated in the 2000 primary campaign, just as his behavior toward Obama and his agenda has been driven by personal animus toward the man who beat him out for the presidency he "deserved" to win, rather than by any concrete policy differences or "country first" duty.

McCain never really changes; he's a thin-skinned, bitter man who let the press think they were his friends, and they returned the favor tenfold.

Posted by: Redshift on April 5, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

So he's not a maverick, eh? What's he positioning himself as, a "toe-the-party-line" kind of guy? And he thinks this will get him votes how?

Posted by: g on April 5, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

And, he has always been at war with Eurasia. Also.

Posted by: biggerbox on April 5, 2010 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I think it would be considerably more difficult to find a position McCain HASN'T abandoned in the name of political expediency. Jimminy Christmas the man even converted to Baptism just before the primaries...

Posted by: Daragh McDowell on April 5, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

All of those political reporters who worshiped McCain circa 1999 should probably pause right about now, and appreciate the extent to which they fell for a con.

"all those political reporters"=the entire American press

Posted by: Allan Snyder on April 5, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Headline over at McThuselah's blog: Senator McCain Up By Double Digits in the Lastest GOP Primary Poll.
Does anybody remember how much he was up by in the Firstest Poll?

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on April 5, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

well, He's got a point, he never was a maverick despite playing one on the sunday news shows for 8 years or so.

Posted by: Jamie on April 5, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

The mother of all flops

This is the sloppiest floppiest flop of all.
It's so big, he's got no where to flop to anymore...

McCain not a Maverick?
That's like a fish out of water...

Posted by: koreyel on April 5, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Hey you kids, get off one of my many lawns! And stop calling me a Maverick!"

Posted by: Breezeblock on April 5, 2010 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Assuming McCain passes the primary, he will go back to being a Maverick for the general election. I would love to advertisements in the fall justifing his support for cutting off unemployemnt insurance.

Kyl should be very glad he is not up for reelection, If the Dems ran a credible candidate, he would be demolished.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 5, 2010 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Positions John McCain Would TakeHas Taken to Get Over

To former wife: "I never considered myself your husband in sickness and in health."

To Charles Keating: "I never considered myself a represenative of the people."

To the other members of the Keating 5 as he ratted them out: "I never considered myself part of your conspiracy."

To the Bankers: "I never considered reading the bailout plan."

To the American elecotrate: "I never considered what would happen if I got elected and died in office."

or alternativly

"I never considered the country first."

Posted by: Winkandanod on April 5, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is publicly immolating the last shreds of his reputation in protest over Health Care Reform . . . or something. He'll tell us as soon as today's polls are in.

Posted by: Jon on April 5, 2010 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Yas anyone asked Anna Marie Cox for a reaction yet. I seem to recall that she was quite fond of his maverickyness.....

Posted by: Paul Dirks on April 5, 2010 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Well I just consider this an admission of truth -- that he has always considered himself not a maverick, but a sell out. I can go for that.

Posted by: P-Dog on April 5, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

"All of those political reporters who worshiped McCain circa 1999 should probably pause right about now, and appreciate the extent to which they fell for a con."

To do so would require a measure of self-awareness on the part of the barbecue press which, all evidence shows, is utterly lacking.

Posted by: alopecia on April 5, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure that we're witnessing the end of a con. I think it's more like PTSD. If you look at it from his point of view, McCain has spent the past 12 years being ratf*cked by the Rove/Falwell wing of the republican party. They used scurrilous lies to beat him in a primary, then insisted he play nice for the good of the party. They let him have his anti-torture bill and then eviscerated it in a signing statement. Then they told him his time for running for the presidency had come and set him up to take a fall again, refusing his first choice of running mate and pressuring him into a snap decision. He's now a definitive has-been, facing a primary challenge backed by the same people who sold him the bill of goods that got him into this dishonorable state.

Consummate con man, or broken shell of a man?

Posted by: paul on April 5, 2010 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Are McCain and Romney is some sort of unholy contest to see who can flip flop the most on every issue? They're neck and neck right now.

Posted by: Col Bat Guano on April 5, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Now I get it. "maverick" is repug-speak for whore.

Posted by: buddym on April 5, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

"I knew McCain was shameless. I knew he had few, if any, core beliefs. "

Presumably you are referring to his political positionings and re-positionings. His biography demonstrates some admirable core beliefs.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on April 5, 2010 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

"I knew McCain was shameless. I knew he had few, if any, core beliefs. "

Yes, indeed. This is a man who betrayed his fellow POWs in Vietnam, and deserted a sick wife upon his return, marrying a very wealthy woman who could help his political career.

This is the man who incessently complained about "earmarks" but consistently voted in favor of the bills that contained them.

And this is a man who allowed Sarah Palin to be chosen as his running mate, despite the risk of his death when in office and Palin's utter ignorance and stupidity.

And it is a man who stays in office and runs for another term despite his obvious cognitive impairment.

At least Pete Domenici had the remaining good sense to decide against another run when he was suffering from frontal lobar degeneration (known as Pick's Disease), a degenerative brain disorder, and it was progressing.

Posted by: winddancer on April 5, 2010 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Only a true maverick would deny his maverickiness."

McCain: Well, what sort of chance does that give me? OK - I AM a maverick!

"He is a maverick!"

(with apologies to Monty Python and the Life of Brian)

Posted by: Marko on April 5, 2010 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

hmmm...Methinks the Mavericky McCain wanted us to think "Top Gun" when he branded himself the "Original" Maverick. Since then, though, it turns out that the movie Maverick, just like the original Maverick is a member of an mind control cult.

Ironic, or what?

Posted by: bcinaz on April 5, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "All of those political reporters who worshiped McCain circa 1999 should probably pause right about now, and appreciate the extent to which they fell for a con."

They didn't "fall for" anything. They were active participants in perpetrating a con just as they were when they savaged Gore and pimped for George W. Bush in 2000. That's what they are paid to do. They are not "reporters" -- they are propagandists.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 5, 2010 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

And to think this man and his trusty side-kick would be in office RIGHT NOW, somewhat flip-floppily leading this nation, if one or the other of them didn't quit in the middle for a higher paying gig.

...Here's to that 20-something percent of Americans who still believe we got the wrong president in 2008.

Posted by: * on April 5, 2010 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

If McCain did fancy himself as being like the Tom Cruise character in Top Gun, then the joke really is on him, because any fighter pilot would know, or should know, that a man like Cruise's "Maverick" character would never make it into Top Gun, let alone graduate. Daredevils and risk takers are extremely unwelcome there, especially when entrusted with multi-million-dollar taxpayer property. But then, of course, McCain lost what, five of those? If he hadn't been an admiral's son he would have been grounded for life after his first crash.

Posted by: T-Rex on April 5, 2010 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Somewhere Scott Simon is quietly weeping.

Posted by: Nothing But the Ruth on April 5, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know why everyone is picking on McCain, when he's just now finally coming clean.

He didn't say he never called himself a maverick; he said he never CONSIDERED himself a maverick -- even as he was calling himself a maverick.

Posted by: Peter Principle on April 5, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing But the Ruth...hee, hee. What will perky little Scott's narrative about his man-crush St. John be now? That the horrible spirit of partisan meanness sweeping the land (both parties do it equally, you know) has forced this honorable, plain-spoken man to do things (Scott brings out his really sad voice here) he really doesn't want to do? Will that be it?

Posted by: jrw on April 5, 2010 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Say what you may...but look who the guy is running against! We all watched JD make a complete fool of himself in Washington as a legislator. Arizona and this Nation cannot afford for JD to go back to Washington. JD likes earmarks, JD was a porkbarrel spender, JD lost his seat to a DEM b/c of his corrupt behavior!

Posted by: Shana on April 5, 2010 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

I knew McCain was shameless. I knew he had few, if any, core beliefs. I knew he'd abandon any of his so-called principles at a moment's notice, and flip-flop on every imaginable area of public policy.

But I never thought I'd actually see McCain say, "I never considered myself a maverick."

I think you just wrote JD Hayworth's next TV ad...

Posted by: Jim in Chicago on April 5, 2010 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Not only did the media obediently call McCain a "maverick," they never challenged him on what the term actually means. Did it mean he was a moderate, compromising occasionally with democrats? The media never tried to pin him down.

Posted by: happy misanthropy on April 5, 2010 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

This is a race for an important seat, while we may wonder what and why things are said, it is important to remember the bigger picture... look who the guy is running against! We all watched JD make a complete fool of himself in Washington as a legislator. Arizona and this Nation cannot afford for JD to go back to Washington. JD likes earmarks, JD was a porkbarrel spender, JD lost his seat to a DEM b/c of his corrupt behavior!

Posted by: Jane D on April 5, 2010 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, I fell for the scam too in 1999, but at least it was clear to me by June 2004 that McCain had decided to kiss up to Bush, and was no longer a 'maverick' in any meaningful way.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on April 5, 2010 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

Liar, liar, pants on fire. Nose is as long as a telephone wire! hahaha--nothing like an old fool.

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