McCain the Maverick Suffers Amnesia

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Newsflash: John McCain is no maverick—and has never been one. From a David Margolick Newsweek article:

“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.”

Has McCain become detached from reality? Now that he’s facing a tough challenge in the GOP primary for his Arizona Senate seat, the veteran senator is depicting himself as a Sarah Palin conservative, not a “maverick”—a term that for many suggests “a Republican who’s willing to buck his party by working with liberal Democrats on such issues as campaign reform, climate change, tobacco restrictions, banning torture, and immigration reform.” That sort of maverick label won’t help McCain in a race in which his conservative loyalties are being questioned by Tea Partiers and others. Distancing himself from his good, ol’ straight-talkin’ mavericky days is one thing, but denying that he ever said he considered himself a maverick is  darn foolish. McCain might as well claim he never was in Vietnam. It’s ridiculous to have to factcheck the guy on this, but here goes.

During his 2008 acceptance speech at the Republican convention, McCain said:

You know, I’ve been called a maverick; someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes it’s meant as a compliment, and sometimes it’s not. What it really means is I understand who I work for. I don’t work for a party. I don’t work for a special interest. I don’t work for myself. I work for you.

Weeks later, on Larry King Live, on October 29, 2008, McCain remarked,

Sarah’s a maverick. I’m a maverick. No one expected us to agree on everything.

Is it worth Googling and Nexising any further? Probably not. No doubt, there are other instances in which McCain embraced the maverick banner. But even without any additional examples, J.D. Hayworth, the former GOP House member challenging McCain in the primary, has an easy-to-make ad. Cue ominous music: “In 2008, John McCain said, ‘I’m a maverick.’ Now, he says, ‘I never considered myself a maverick.’ Which is it? And what’s worse? To deny you called yourself a maverick—or to forget you did?”

With this overly-calculated and desperate remark, a desperate McCain has made a hard reelection bid even harder.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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