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Is John McCain a Maverick?

Is John McCain Really a "Maverick?"

It's a wildly successful branding, "McCain" and "maverick" trip off the tongue like so much peanut butter and jelly — but is it an accurate pairing? The Arizona Republic pulled together comprehensive lists of occasions where they thought McCain marched to his own drummer, and times where they thought he was more dutiful back up singer. So how independent is he?

I ask the question not to suggest that McCain isn't, but because the strongest convictions are the ones that have been tested. So let's test them! (Before we do, can we just acknowledge that no one on earth has ever looked more uncomfortable in a polo shirt than McCain? Thank you.)

Here's an example of the apparent contradiction the article aims to shake out:

  • In 2000, McCain ran a reform-oriented presidential campaign against GOP front-runner George W. Bush. He called influential Religious Right leaders "agents of intolerance."
  • But in 2006, McCain spoke at the commencement ceremony at the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. McCain formerly denounced Falwell as one of the "agents of intolerance.

I suppose this example could be used both ways — both to back up his maverick status or rally against it. Ralph Nader, for one, is convinced he's his own man saying, "If they think they can change him, they're whistling Dixie." What do you think? Does McCain belong on a list with Theodore Roosevelt and Barry Goldwater? Does he act on principle, or is he as tied to a party line as any politician?


Join The Conversation
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Well said meg. I think that is what makes politics so ugly. You have to court so many people that stand for or do things that you feel are not what you stand for. It would take an enormous grass roots campaign to get the word out for a candidate who doesn't want to pander to either the dems or repubs special interest groups. That is why I am announcing my candidacy for president in 2012. It's going to take me that long to get the word out, especially on my budget. :)
megnmac megnmac 9 years
Falwell is part of the team - the religious right is a part of the Rep coalition that makes or breaks elections with turnout. When they come, and are either in love with their candidate or terrified of the other, they bring numbers. They are organized and get votes out. Playing ball, and showing he respects that power, McCain is hoping to keep these leaders like Falwell from wrecking him.
Matdredalia Matdredalia 9 years
What I find interesting is people in the comments keep referring to McCain "playing for the team when it suits him" and all that lot.....which you know, I can and do respect. But since when does Jerry Falwell count as part of the Republican team and why in the hell is making a speech for him beneficial to the team?
OMGoshDramaQueen OMGoshDramaQueen 9 years
TURQUOISE! [My nails are turquoise && neon pink.!] <3
megnmac megnmac 9 years
I agree w/ hypnoticmix - he seems to play nice with the team when it suits him, but if he wants something done and believes in it they won't stop him. I think that is why the mass Rep media machine (a la Limbaugh) doesn't trust him as the candidate. I also wonder if his conservative principles reflect a Rep party of another era (perhaps when he joined?). He's done some great bipartisan work, and highlights of his career involve promoting transparency and avoiding private interests owning politicians. Also - JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE IS FROM AZ DOES NOT EXCUSE THE MOMJEANS OR TURQUOISE!!! I don't own any, and I wear normal suits on a daily basis. She looks nice usually to. No idea who dressed her, but she certainly doesn't look happy about it...
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I think McCain realized that he had to court the religious right a little to get the nom. I don't begrudge him that. It sucks but I don't see any way around it. That said, I believe he really thinks they suck.
michlny michlny 9 years
the more i read about this guy, the more i like him!
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
There was an article in the May issue of the Atlantic (it's not online yet, so I can't link to it) that says McCain is more at the heart of what conservativism is about than the Republican party is. It drew examples from his speeches and policy making that highlighted the similarities in thinking between him and Edmund Burke. I think a mix of being in agreement with the party and having your own opinion at least shows that you can think for yourself and you're not a puppet. Obviously you align with one party over the other based on the majority of your beliefs, but I always find it a little suspect when people agree with every single thing the party stands for. I like to see some independent thought in my politicians.
syako syako 9 years
uh oh, I'm sensing another m2 - on the edge - conservative convert? :fingerscrossed:
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
McCain is the kind of guy who doesn't play for the team for the sake of the team. He plays for the team if the team makes sense to him and if there's an idea floating out there that he likes and the team doesn't, screw the team. I guess he's a lot like me, hehe ;-).
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
He looks presidential in that polo.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
It's all the same look. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!!!
stephley stephley 9 years
I'd give him credit for marching to his own drummer...
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
haha Sy! Its very Derek Zoolander!
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
His brave stance to keep the troops in Iraq for a century is certainly outside the boundaries of what I'd call normal.
em1282 em1282 9 years
I love that the first set of comments centers on their clothes. Hahaha!
syako syako 9 years
and on another note, I must comment on W's blue steel look.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
I think the maverick title just stayed with him from his military days, I didn't really think people applied it to his policies..
CitizenSugar CitizenSugar 9 years
That's a great point syako--I thought the same thing about the lists. Comprehensive, but not without their own bias? It definitely highlights how complicated the distinction is.
syako syako 9 years
so I read the list. First off, they did a lot of work. Second, I'm not sure it so much negates him being a maverick if some of the things he did were actually "on party lines" just goes to show that he's obviously not an independent and that sometimes his party's interests are in line with his own. Not a bad thing imo.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Um...Barry Goldwater is on a list all his own!
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
well they live in arizona, you really can't fault them for the turqoise... ... at least he's not wearing a bolo tie!!
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
Give Cyn a break-this is an old picture. Her jeans are better than what L is wearing. I look past the mom jeans and I am now focused on the belt.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
That is some killer turquoise there.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
and how dark are he hands, if I had just seen them and not her face i would have sworn that she wasn't white. Blech!!
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