Maverick? Who’s a Maverick?

From Newsweek:

Late last month, at a dusty fairground outside Tucson, John McCain stood behind the person who is, at least for the next few years, surely his most important legacy to American politics. And speaking to the adoring mob, Sarah Palin stood behind John McCain, repaying his inestimable gift to her in the most compelling possible fashion: by helping him to survive.


Many, many years ago she’d competed in a beauty pageant, Palin declared, as women howled (and a few men growled) approvingly. McCain would surely win the talent and debate portions of any such contest, she went on, but no way would the Washington elite and “pundints” and “lame-stream media” ever crown him “Miss Congeniality”! “He’s never been a company man, he’s never been one to just ‘go with the flow,’?” she crowed. For there was at least one thing she’d learned in her years of commercial fishing in Alaska: only dead fish do that.


Much as the crowd ate up her every word, Palin had apparently missed the real message this electoral season in Arizona: for his three decades in Congress, McCain hadn’t gone with the flow enough, at least not enough to satisfy many Arizona Republicans. Why else would his rival, former congressman J.D. Hayworth, be billing himself as “the consistent conservative”? 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 consider myself a person who serves the people of Arizona to the best of his abilities.” Yet here was Palin, urging her fans four times in 15 minutes to send McCain the Maverick back to Washington.

Original DVD cover

With mainstream politicians paying an ever-greater price for their moderation—witness the Republican gubernatorial primary in Texas and upcoming senatorial primaries in Florida and Utah—mavericks like McCain are becoming an endangered species. That is, if McCain the Maverick is not already extinct. After retreating on a number of issues—gays in the military, climate change, the creation of a national-debt commission—the erstwhile iconoclast has morphed into what the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, calls “a fabulous team player.” It was McCain of all people who pledged that, after the president managed to get health care enacted, Obama would get no cooperation from the Republicans for the rest of the year. (He has since backed off that threat a bit, at least on matters of national security.)


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?


Taking on McCain has always required the delicacy of those soldiers in The Hurt Locker, defusing roadside IEDs. Listening to his adversaries in his various presidential runs, you’d think the name on his birth certificate reads “With All Due Respect John McCain” or “We Honor His Service John McCain.” But such is the anger this nasty political season that even McCain is not immune. Hayworth beat him up regularly on his drive-time radio show in Phoenix, perfecting a McCain imitation, decrying the “Double Talk Express,” nominating him “weenie of the week,” suggesting that someone put together a “John McCain Alphabet Book.” (A is for amnesty for illegal immigrants, B is for bitter, C is for clenched teeth, D is for difficult, etc.)

Hayworth, who’s worn only the uniform of the Eagle Scouts, still pays homage to McCain’s military service at the start of every speech. He does not talk about throwing him out of office but of “welcoming him home.” But otherwise the gloves are off.


Something about John McCain leaves people, on both left and right, feeling betrayed and disappointed. Even Joe the Plumber has grown disillusioned, concluding he’s just another exploitative, elitist pol.


Yet catch McCain off guard—or off script—these days, and he can act authentically put-upon and self-pitying. His former champions in the press are picking on him, writing hatchet jobs, he suggests, but it is his Job-like lot to be treated unfairly.


The old John McCain, the current one insists, hasn’t gone anywhere: any changes in his positions are readily explainable tweaks rather than anything systematic or nefarious. He bristles at charges that he’s bitter. “The fact is that Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell and Tom Coburn and Jon Kyl and John Thune and Lamar Alexander—I could give you a list of 50 of them—are saying that McCain never had a better time,” he insists, ticking off the names of his Republican colleagues. But he sounds so unhappy saying so!


Time was, McCain and Hayworth were allies. […] After Hayworth began assailing him on the air, McCain became one of his largest advertisers—in a sense, paying his salary. At the same time, McCain complained to the Federal Election Commission that Hayworth’s employers were effectively contributing to his campaign, leading them to cancel the show.


That race may be the toughest reelection battle McCain has ever faced, but it’s still a mismatch. As Hayworth loved pointing out on the air, for all McCain’s talk about money’s malign effect on politics, he has millions of dollars on hand, collected from the state’s economic and business elite, while Hayworth has collected a comparative pittance. Through a combination of admiration, gratitude, self-interest, and self-defense—he has a legendarily short fuse (and long memory) for those who cross him—McCain has lined up endorsements from virtually every important Republican elected official in the state, along with those of Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and Tim Pawlenty. The Hayworth campaign considers the state’s largest newspaper, The Arizona Republic, a McCain house organ.

As the state’s preeminent pollster, Bruce Merrill, points out, the ire into which Hayworth taps is far deeper than it is broad. Arizona has actually grown more moderate in recent years; independents can vote in the state’s primaries, and McCain isn’t so tempting a target for tea partiers, especially with Palin’s imprimatur.


Many believe McCain’s aggressive posture is more emotional than electoral. Even for someone who routinely demonizes opponents, he is said to despise Hayworth and what he thinks he represents: intolerance, corruption (Hayworth was linked to Jack Abramoff), the gravy train of earmarks, which, McCain feels, robbed the Republicans of the presidency and the Congress. McCain himself rarely mentions Hayworth, relying instead on surrogates. “The idea that a man like John McCain has to deal with a Bozo like J. D. Hayworth is really offensive,” says former state attorney general Grant Woods.


With no prominent Democrats in the race, a win in the Republican primary will almost certainly return McCain to Washington. But which McCain?


Filed under 2008 election, Alaska, Barack Obama, Congress, Corruption, Democrats, FEC, Federal Election Commission, Global warming, Homophobia, Homosexuality, humor, Immigration, Jack Abramoff, Jeb Bush, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, movies, parody, politics, radio, Republicans, Sarah Palin, Senate, snark, Wordpress Political Blogs

32 responses to “Maverick? Who’s a Maverick?

  1. writechic

    He’s so silly:

    • writechic

      It’s like me saying I never considered myself a mother, a bad Catholic, an Ohioan, a Louisianan, an Alabamian, a news producer, freelancer. It’s just nuts.

    • sshhhhhhhhhh!!! capt underpants doesn’t know stuff can be recorded these days.

      • writechic

        He’s gotta be losing his marbles. Seriously.

        • he’s not losing his marbles, he’s losing his temper. it’s not senility at the heart of his latest wackiness, it’s his bitterness at losing in 2008. he thought he was entitled to be prez, and he’s pissed off that most of the country disagreed with that sentiment. he’s blaming everyone else for his failure. he’s the one who ran a craptastic campaign. he’s the one who chose princess sarah as his running mate. he’s the one who suspended his campaign. he’s the one who catered (and continues to cater) to every crackpot demographic out there. he’ll probably win his senate seat again, but only because he doesn’t have any decent opposition. however, he’ll go down in the history books (except maybe in texas) as a sore loser, a bitter old fart, and a fool. that makes me happy.

          • writechic

            You make me laugh. I agree with your take, but for me…anyone who says I am X. Then turns around and says I never considered myself X…that person has a stability problem, a mental consistency problem.

            For me, that person is a place where the world has gone crazy. Sarah Palin does the same thing. And I keep as far away from those “types” as possible.

            So I don’t mean he’s losing his marbles and shouldn’t be held accountable. I just mean that’s too looney for me.

            • you make me laugh, too.

              you have to consider to whom capt underpants is trying to appeal. the teabaggers aren’t exactly the type to feed on facts. on top of that, they’re all confused, because princess says to vote for capt u, but their gut tells them to vote for the horse fuc….i mean, jd hayworth. capt u will probably win the primary, but hopefully, the horse fuc….hayworth will do some damage and a lot of the teabaggers will stay home for the general election, especially now that capt u has a democratic opponent. i just read about him at the big orange. his name is Rodney Glassman, and he was a councilman in tucson/ a jag officer/ and a phd in arid land resources (not to mention his law degree).

              • writechic

                Just saw Glassman! He sounds like he’d be sweet. 🙂

                McCain made it clear in the presidential election that he was willing to pander to the creepiest subset of Republicans…plus all that butt kissing he did on Bush re torture.

                • did the read the full article at newsweek? i loved this part:

                  Indeed, McCain has always been a lousy liar, another reason people have so admired him. Embracing George W. Bush during the 2004 campaign, one friend recalled, McCain looked as if he were “hugging a cactus.”


  2. So, what would happen if I, as a fellow Eagle Scout, asked J.D. Heyworth to say “Scouts honor” on one of his statements?

  3. McCain: I don’t work for the corporations (yea you are just married to one?), I don’t work for anyone.
    Matter of fact, I’m so damned Mavericky, I just announced there will be no cooperation in the Senate the the rest of the year.
    He already does not work for the Government– but he collects the paycheck.
    Come on Arizona! Make it official, retire McCain before he becomes petrified wood.

    • funny, but marriage to a corporation should be legal now that scotus has determined that they have all the rights that people do. unless, of course, they’re gay people. 😡

      • Well, they had to grasp on to some label.
        Saying he’s an out-of-touch pasty old white guy homophobic, anti-abortion curmudgeon does not have the ring to it, that “Maverick” had.

        Thankfully they Mavericked themselves into an election loss. If only both Palin & McCain would maverick themselves into retirement that would be lovely!

  4. I don’t get this unending quest of power. He’s got the mansion in Sedona, a very beautiful place, about $500 million in resourses, a sagging trophy wife. Now you could just kick back and enjoy these things in ones old age. Or go back to DC and just be an asshole.

    • it’s all about trying to outdo his father and grandfather. he’ll never be the men they were, and he resents it. he figured being prez would outdo them, but he screwed that up.

  5. Funny newsbit: a posted story on NBC5 says that the entry of Bobby LaBonte #71 Chevrolet at the Texas Motor Speedway Cup race on 4/19 will be sponsored by Rick Perry, The campain has paid $225,000 for the one race paintjob whos normal sponser is “Taxslayer”. Local D/FW opinion is quite negative on the comments. Photos of the blue/red Governor Perry scheme availabe at website. I’ve been watching stock cars ever since Daytona opened, with the flying cars, but never seen a politician on one of them. Till now.

    • like governor little ricky goodhair doesn’t have the nascar vote yet? 🙄

      • Why does my mind go to envisioning that car hitting the wall, crashing & burning?

        I am sooooo not the Nascar fan, but every now & then they show the crash-n-burn footage on regular news.

        • while i hope the driver doesn’t crash and burn, i can’t say the same for gov little ricky goodhair’s political career. i bet his hair is very flammable.

    • I hate it!

      I’m not a big NASCAR fan, but my parents are. I’ve watched a race here and there, and NEVER seen a political ad on a car. I like that.

      If he starts a trend, then I’ll add that to my list of reasons to dislike Perry.

  6. So, Palin thinks that McCain can win segments of a beauty pageant.

    Ummm … is that really what she wants to be saying?

    I think that he might fail the physical for the Miss Arizona pageant.

    If not, then there’s a story there!

  7. Joanaroo

    I always told my sister that the Rethugs were going to make NASCAR the National Pastime since you know they must be doing a slow burn that baseball has become a melting pot. NASCAR is perfect for the Tea Party: you have RVs and pop-up trailers, beer drinking, scantily-clad women in hot weather, smoking and tobacco chewing, and best of all, E. D. treatment and Sexual Enhancement pill sponsors galore! It’s enough to make a Republican male race fan have a saluting big erection! =)