Is the Maverick Back?

Is the Maverick Back?


I should have loved John McCain’s speech. He promised an administration focused on good ideas rather than partisan ideas. He promised to appoint Democrats and independents to his cabinet. He reminded us of all the special interests and entrenched powers he’s taken on while in Washington. He blasted his own party for its recent corruption. He asked us to give of ourselves to better our country.

If McCain had been that McCain for the last six months, his speech last night would have sealed the deal. I’d be sticking the bumper sticker on my car this morning. But he very much hasn’t been that McCain. He’s been a panderer and a partisan and a petulant old man. The maverick we saw speak last night is not the man we’ve seen running for president.

So what am I supposed to think now?

When I was actively supporting McCain earlier this year, I frequently made the point that while Barack Obama talks beautifully about bridging divides, McCain has an entire career of doing the hard and often thankless work of finding common ground. While Obama says he will bring change and yet offers a slim record showing little more than a string of partisan votes, McCain says he’ll bring change and backs that up with a record of bucking his own party and going after a slew of special interests and corrupt powers.

No, McCain’s record is not without its warts. He has some distasteful associations with lobbyists and he’s made some poor decisions. But at least I know (or once thought I knew) he will not simply deliver one party’s policies no matter the situation. He will have the brains and the guts to reach for what he believes is the best solution, regardless of who that pisses off. I still have no reason to believe Obama will give us anything but the usual Democratic policy initiatives (as much as I’d like to believe otherwise).

I would pull the lever (or touch the screen) for McCain with little reservation if I thought we were getting the maverick version. Unfortunately, I’m not sure who we’d get. At least he showed last night that the McCain I admire is still alive and kicking. Now let’s see if that McCain is the one who shows up for the debates and the rest of the campaign.

  • Avinash_Tyagi

    McCain the Maverick is the same as Compassionate conservative, its something they pull out of the closet once in a while to get elected, then they shove it back in for another four years.

  • kranky kritter

    Alan, I got the distinct feeling that we’re going to see the combative McCain from here on out, and that he’s committed to pounding his fist on things like earmarks. We’ll just have to stay tuned. His continued accentuation of socially conservative positions still concerns me, but since it has never been anything like a raison d’etrefor him in the past, it’s not a deal-breaker for me.

    Avinash, your comments are spoken like someone who has VERY little familiarity with John McCain. McCain’s nomination was improbable from the start because of all the times he’s alienated partisan republicans. It’s why so many republicans are to this day lukewarm about the guy. While it’s true that he’s an 80 to 90% faithful republican, he’s not just a full-of-crap guy mouthing compassionate conservatism.

    He really has publicly and even showily strayed from party-line positions more than once when he felt they were hurting the country. The results have not always been fantastic (mccain-feingold, for one), but I think you are barking up the wrong tree to suggest that his heart is not in the right place. he has too lengthy a record for that charge to stick. I can respect anyone who opposes McCain because they are troubled by the policies he supporting, but not someone who suggests he’s evil, full of crap, and just like George Bush. That’s nonsense.

  • gerryf


    I respectfully disagree. McCain the Maverick was not a smoke screen circa 2000 (even 2002) and before. He was a real conservative who many would disagree with on a philosophical level, but there was no denying the man was his own man.

    Since 2002, he’s sold his soul to the devil for one last shot at the presidency.

    Last night, despite some GOP rhetoric, we saw a little of that old Maverick. I thought it was his best performance in years, with a few exceptions (misrepresenting Obama’s tax plan and a couple of shrill moments where he reminded me of an old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn).

    Overall, though, it looked like the old McCain.

    Sorry, though. A) I cannot so easily forget the last six years, and b) the more I read about Phalin, the more I cannot vote for a 72-year-old president even if he is returning to form.

    I’m not biting.

    That McCain

  • mw

    Actually, Avinash – it is exactly the opposite. McCain has a long and well documented record of bucking his own party. However, when running for President he shoved that record into the closet, in order to pander to the Republican base and win the primary. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has established a Senate voting record of lockstep toe-the-party-line Democratic Party solidarity. There is no arguing this point, John McCain voted against his party more often than Barack Obama voted against his party by a wide margin, hence McCain is factually more independent and bipartisan than Barack Obama. [LINK]

    “…Obama voted with his party more than 95 percent of the time during that period, while McCain was more independent, tallying party unity scores between 70 and 90 percent.

  • Avinash_Tyagi

    You can’t judge a man on what he did years ago, you judge him on what he does now, maybe back in the 90’s and early part of this decade he was a different man, but that man is gone, instead we have a person who tows the party line, a man who is the same as Bush

  • mw

    “You can’t judge a man on what he did years ago, you judge him on what he does now…

    I am glad you and I have finally found some common ground on which we can agree. Barack Obama, as defined by his current voting record, is a partisan hack.

  • Terry

    I would only agree that the Maverick is back if…

    he fires the sta that once worked fr the Bush campaign

    closed down all 527 groups immediately

    willing to open an investigation into the Bush administration’s information on Iraq

    ONLY THEN would I ever think he’s a real reformist. His speech wasn’t exactly ‘more of the same’ but it was the same text-book ‘let me look like a reformist’ table of issues that sit very empty on the table.

  • Avinash_Tyagi

    And that’s not the issue, this isn’t about Obama, after years of Republican rule, Obama can bring straight Dem plans if he wants and still be change we can believe in, but McCain can’t bring change if he’s parroting Bush, he can’t be a Maverick.

  • Anna

    I will say that George W. Bush also had a record of working “across the aisle” when he was governor of Texas & look what we got instead these last 8 years. I don’t think McCain is evil but he’s definitely self-serving. Even when he “bucked his own party” it was politically expedient for him to do so. Just look at how he’s been attempting to game the McCain-Feingold legislation that he helped write, particularly during his primary campaign. I guess helping to write the law gives you the best knowledge of how to exploit the loopholes to follow the letter but not the spirit of the law.

  • mw

    “…but McCain can’t bring change if he’s parroting Bush,” – avin

    Which he decidedly is not.

    I know this is confusing for you Avinash, but Bush is not running for re-election.

  • Jennn Fusion

    You know, I genuinely WANTED to be impressed by his speech… but I just wasn’t. I, too, appreciated the “Maverick” side, although I felt like his speech was lacking something… perhaps original material that we haven’t heard rehashed and Frankenstein-ed together from all his other speeches. (He’s got one Sarah Palin speech and you’re going to hear it over and over again until November.) The pundits said he spoke more specifically than Obama about what he’s going to do in Washington… but I don’t consider saying “He wants big government, I want small government” to be very specific. What in the world does that even entail? Where is he planning to make cuts, how many jobs will that impact, how will he be improving process efficiency and what will be done with the surplus? I know he can’t go into everything I want to hear and that’s not his mission for the RNC speech, but I don’t think there’s a soul on the planet that isn’t already certain about his Vietnam experience. I don’t think he’s going to pull the Middle Class in with his flimsy promises that he’ll fight for them. I liked the end of the speech when he got riled up and started yelling, though… I thought that was the most character we’ve seen out of him in a while.

  • Jim S

    Yes, McCain is adopting Bush’s positions on about 80% or more of his promises even as he pretends in speeches and ads to be different. Pay no attention to mw’s claims. He’s gone hard core Republican conservative lately and will say anything to defend them. If you don’t like Republican policies then you won’t like McCain/Palin policies.

  • Avinash_Tyagi

    Sorry mw, but when your economic stance is spend and cut taxes, that is more of bush, when your foreign policy is staying the course in Iraq and talking tough that is more of bush, I know this is confusing for you mw, but when you follow the policies of a person, you are parroting them.

  • J. Harden

    “And that’s not the issue, this isn’t about Obama,” – Avinash

    God that sounds like something my wife would say…let me finish the sentence.

    “And that’s not the issue, this isn’t about Obama, this about you and your complete lack of sensitivity towards ___________.”

    And then I reminder her of what a vote for Obama would mean to her personally as she gazes over her vanity stuffed with organic make-up, baby-sea lion hair products and designer jewelry. And the room goes totally f-ing silent.

    Compassionate conservativism means employing people and providing goods & services that people need. It also means giving to charity, which conservatives statistically do much more than liberals do.

    Can anyone explain to me what “Change we can believe in” means? What am I suppose to “believe in”? Is this a referrence to belief in Obama or the “Change”? When you can’t even decipher the freak’in slogan, that should tell you something.

    Here is something you can ABSOLUTELY believe in: A economic-behavioral response to Mr. Tax Obama.

  • Avinash_Tyagi

    Under clinton we had much healthier economic growth, growth that was enjoyed by the public at large, not just the ultra rich, when we had the Democrats keeping the “compassionate conservatives” in check, we had higher taxes back then and yet things chugged along much stronger, even had a surplus. Guess your comopassionate conservatism isn’t the route to take after all.

  • phin


    Under Clinton, you also had divided government for 6 out of his 8 years. In other words, the worst excesses of both parties were tempered by the relative power of the opposition. Bush lacked that check for much of his term and we saw that result. Nothing and I mean NOTHING that I have read or checked re: Obama’s actual record will lead me to believe that AFTER he becomes POTUS, that he will be this “post-partisanship” candidate. That is a humongous leap of faith with a man of his hubris (relative to his accomplishments of course), with a huge advantage in the House and a possible filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Oh yeah, and his base absolutely adores him (which is always a relief to those who find themselves around the political middle) and the media is planted firmly up his ass. If that isn’t a recipe for disaster, I don’t know what is. After all, it’s not like there is anything in the recent past to learn from…n’ah.

  • L

    The more I read J. Harden the more I am sure he is the most emotionally-charged partisan commenting on this site.

    If compassionate conservatism means employing people, it is failing. Please see the new unemployment figures, 6.1% and the part of the employment situation summary where it says 2.2 million people in the past year have moved onto unemployment. Also, take a look at real wages, where after initially dropping as Bush entered office have remained stagnant for the rest of his 8 years, a stark contrast you will notice to EVERY president since Nixon.

    Granted, this slowdown isn’t completely Bush’s fault, but if his supposed policies are a recipe for economic growth they are evidently failing.

    With regards to the CATO piece, McCain said he would not rule out raising taxes to bring solvency to social security. I also like the last line saying we will experience “European-style stagnation”, please see some earlier graphs and charts to see that it won’t take Obama’s tax plan to bring that about. I am also pretty skeptical about WSJ and other newspaper economic analysis, the WSJ editorial section is the same one that brought us supply-side economics…long held by any serious economist as bunk.

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    The Bush/McCain comparisons are valid from a policy standpoint but it is just partisan noise to claim that McCain is running for Bush’s 3rd term. Even with certain policy similarities, these are two very different men.

    However, the Bush comparison that’s not ever talked about is the one phin touches on. I’m talking about the Bush/Obama comparison. I guess it takes an indenpenent who has no real love for either party to realize that things didn’t turn out so well for the country the last time we elected a man we knew too little about, had too little experience, had a fanatical, unyielding base, talked a lot about “uniting” and was given a rubber-stamp Congress.

    Voting for Obama takes a leap of faith for an independent. You have to trust that he will reach across the aisle despite having no real record of doing so in the U.S. Senate. OR you can just suck it up and decide that a Democratic-led government is preferable to having any Republican anywhere near the White House. If I vote Obama, it’ll probably be that “suck it up” reason. But McCain hasn’t, in my mind, disqualified himself yet.

  • J. Harden

    Avinash is right – the glory days of 90’s were the result of Clinton policies, but more specifically the result of Gore’s invention of the internet. Obama is currently working on an intraglactic floating energy platform that reverses the gravitational pull of blackholes and uses said gravity to drill for oil on Jupiter. Unfortunately, he is running into some slack from Jupiterian environmentalists and will so reverse his position and opt for giant ant farm generators. Now that is hope I can believe in.

  • Avinash_Tyagi

    One big difference Alan, Bush was a republican while Obama is a democrat, dem policies are inherently better, on average the country experiences greater economic growth under the democrats than it does under the Republicans, the reason is while Republicans talk about smaller government and less spending they never follow through, Dems on the other hand admit that they’ll try to use government for the people, and they usually follow through.

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    Avinash: I find things to like policy-wise from both parties and, realistically, a lot of what Clinton did economically was based on free trade, a position Dems have all but abandoned. Also, the president’s policies are only one piece of a much larger system. Even with all of FDR’s programs, it took the war to really energize the American economy. I’m not sure I think either Obama or McCain will have the magic formula to get us out of our current slump. But you no what,whoever is in office will take credit when we do rise out.

    As for the Obama/Bush link, while I have certainly strongly disliked some of Bush’s policies, my biggest problem with him has been his incompetence. I think a lot of that incompetence is/was driven by inexperience and a prediliction to only look at one side of an issue — the side his rabid supporters wanted him to see. Now, my gut feeling on Obama is that he would be a lot less rash and a lot more pragmatic than Bush. But I prefer to vote based on evidence, not on my gut feelings.

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    “you no what” — geez, must be the end of the week.

  • Stuperb

    It’s hard to say which is the real McCain. My gut says that he’s not as conservative on social issues (such as abortion) as being his party’s nominee requires him to be, and that he’s swallowing his pride a bit for a real shot at the White House.

    After the speech last night, though, it was almost embarrassing that he kept using the word “Change”. There isn’t anything about his campaign as it exists (regardless of how you feel about McCain the man) *now* that suggests forward-looking thinking.

  • bgoldwater

    He’s not a great public speaker, is he, but he is a great man.