I thought I could stomach it. I really did. A retired veteran running for our highest office clearly merits our respect and admiration. But after 3+ days of everyone calling him a maverick, including Mac himself, it makes one wonder. In particular, it makes me wonder how long I can suppress my body's intestinal reaction to the constant self-congratulatory declarations by McCain and his party that he is a Maverick. At first, it was just the media looking for an angle, recycling catch phrases like "Comeback Kid", "Straight Talk" and "Maverick" from 2000 and long before. Then it was McCain's own campaign commercial--looking into the light, we see his right profile (because his left profile is disfigured from a cancer scar), the music soars: McCain: the original Maverick. By then, I had to make sure I wasn't eating anything whenever I saw McCain on television. Just in case. Now? Republicans are pushing their new commercial: McCain and Palin: The Original Mavericks. Kinda sounds like one of those 50's doo-wop groups that continues to tour even now under a bunch of different names with only one or two founding members trying to pretend they truly are the real deal. The New Drifters. The Original Drifters. Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Herman's Hermits (without Herman). Jefferson Starship. 'The Original Mavericks'. Sounds like a Grand Ole Opry Show: The Original Mavericks, featuring Lil' Dickie on the fiddle and Dubya on the ol' banjo!
Naturally, then, I have to ask, What's a maverick? Groucho Marx famously said that he wouldn't belong to any club that would have him as a member. All of the Republican mousketeers (Macsketeers?) and Palin-drones (I like that one better) who spoke this past week had a common theme: McCain was independent. A man who lived by example, not word. A Maverick. We're supposed to believe that McCain is a man who defines himself by deeds and not by speech, yet John McCain goes around branding himself as "the original maverick" every chance he can.
So what exactly is a maverick? I couldn't resist the temptation to play William Safire a little bit, so I looked the word up.**
Here's what Mirriam-Webster online says: mav·er·ick Pronunciation: \ˈmav-rik, ˈma-və-\ Function: noun Etymology: Samuel A. Maverick died 1870. American pioneer who did not brand his calves 1: an unbranded range animal; especially : a motherless calf 2: an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party.
That's right, named for the original Maverick, who chose not to brand his calves on the frontier, the meaning has come to define an "independent individual who does not go along with a group or party". That begs an interesting question: how can someone who calls himself a maverick really be one? McCain's trying to get membership in the Conservative Club. If he was really letting his actions lead by example, would he need to constantly tell everyone he was a maverick?
Let's see how much a maverick that Mac' really is. I've picked a few brief points to discuss below.
- *McCain's Homes. OK, so maybe I'm wrong about this one but in an era when people see record foreclosures, and economic woes abound throughout the country, McCain has so many homes (not properties, homes) that he can't even keep count. His lack of memory probably isn't age-related this time. Rather, it's related to his gobs and gobs of money. However, to be fair, McCain probably should be considered a maverick on this point, as he so distinctly differs from all other Republican presidents, such as Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, who each only had one home. That's right, each of those guys differed from McCain because they could only afford ONE retreat. Imagine how, years from now we'll look back at the good old days when the class divide meant the President had only one private enclave.
- *Sarah Palin. His vice presidential pick was anything but ballsy. Picking a conservative to appease a rebellious faction and barely keep the Republican coalition together? Not ballsy. Picking a companion he wants on principle in the face of political pressure? That would have been ballsy. Any other pick would have almost certainly been better for him and for the party, providing a broader, centrist crossover appeal. It's been widely reported that McCain wanted to pick Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge. Ridge, in particular, would have been a very strong pick. With a resume including serving as the first director of homeland security and executive experience as governor of Pennsylvania, Ridge would have made a McCain-Ridge ticket the team to beat Instead, picking Palin was a blatant act of pandering. That she is eloquent, self-assured, and confident doesn't make her a "game changer". Many are rightly concerned that Palin was only picked because she is a woman, and because her ascension to the national scene was intended to level the racial/gender/minority playing field. It wasn't about her qualifications. The throngs of "Palin-drones", the rabid supporters of a candidate hardly known to them, cheered for her more than McCain at his own coronation. That's a bad sign for McCain and the party.
McCain was once revered by many across the political spectrum because he took on his own party. Once upon a time, he demonstrated a keen ability to transcend the status quo, buck trends, and lead debate. Now he can't even lead his own party. Now he's beholden to their increasingly bitter, divisive, and radical ways.
**FYI: McCain's picture was nowhere in the dictionary.