Monday, October 20, 2008

The New Republic Doubts the "Maverick" McCain "Ever Existed"

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1972 Maverick,
a Rust Bucket Bottom of the Line Piece of Crap

McCain says he's a "maverick" and that's why he should be president of the United States. But, what is a "maverick", anyway?" It's a 1957 television series about the Wild West. But, 1957 is fifty years ago, and Americans like me, who are not yet retired, may well feel the need for a serious politics for our country based solidly in the 21st Century, rather than a politics co-opted from a 51 years old Hollywood script about cowboys and Indians.

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A lot has changed since 1957, like the Internet, color television, DVD's space flight . . . John Sydney McCain says he's a "maverick", and that's why we should elect him president. But, what does being a "maverick" have to do with being the leader of the free globalized and nuclear-tipped world? John McCain may be trying to recapture his youth, but he's about half a century too old and too late to play the Maverick he remembers from the 1950's.

We still need pioneers in the sciences, but let's face it: McCain's no pioneer in politics; he's a derivative from Republican cookie factory, mass produced and "branded" just like the old Ford Maverick of which he constantly reminds us.

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Maverick is also the name of a very basic car that Ford offered from 1969 to 1978, from the time he John McCain was 31 years old until he was thirty nine years old, thus, the nostalgia.

Is that all "maverick" means? Merriam Websters Dictionary, offers a definition that may get to the heart of John McCain's adolescence:
Main Entry: 1mav·er·ick           Listen to the pronunciation of 1maverick
Pronunciation: \ˈmav-rik, ˈma-və-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Samuel A. Maverick †1870 American pioneer who did not brand his calves
Date: 1867
1: an unbranded range animal ; especially : a motherless calf
2: an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party
So, the first "maverick", Samuel A. Maverick, was a bit of an anarchist, refusing to participate in the system that had been established for knowing whose cows were whose, while undoubtedly shooting someone if he believed they had usurped one of his cows by accident or on purpose. That hardly seems like a model for the complex world in which we live.

One definition of "maverick" is "unbranded range animal"and John McCain's campaign of late certainly seems unbranded as well as un-house-trained. That hardly seems like a model for a complex society in which the failures of one economy to act respsonsibly have caused an international meltdown, and now require intense diplomacy to put the interconnected system back together again.

The other definition of a "maverick" is "independent individual who does not go along with a group or party". In 1992, we were inclined to believe this image, even though McCain had gone along with other US Senators in the Savings and Loan payoff scandal that cost the US Treasury Billions of dollars to resolve, just like the current mess only on a smaller scale.

But now, after seen George W. Bush reach historic lows in his public approval ratings while John McCain has voted with Bush 90% of the time, McCain even in the most recent debate found it impossible to name any significant instances where he had broken with meaningfully with his party. He opposed torture, but the torture continued under his party. He urged that the war in Iraq be expanded for as many as a hundred years and voilá! The war continues unabated.

He urged that health care be deregulated and that individual states be forbidden by federal law from implementing any consumer protections that the US Congress would not approve. In this way, our medical care could benefit from the same unbridled competition and speculation that has led to an international meltdown of the banking and insurance system, to be followed by a bailout of the very same insurance companies - the most irresponsible bad actors - that got us into the mess in the first place.

If John McCain had ever been a conscientious "maverick" with a different moral compass than Republicans like George W. Bush, then McCain wouldn't have been photographed having a birthday party for himself, holding a cake with Bush, during the very day that New Orleans was inundated with water.

The editors of the New Republic online magazine have endorsed Barack Obama but, equally importantly, have pointed out some essential truths about John McCain, "the maverick": above all, that he never really existed. Recent history has shown that the "maverick" personality was always more hype than hope.
If the John McCain of 2001 or 2002 were running, this might be a far closer call. At that time, this magazine considered McCain a truly great political figure. During the 2000 primaries, we endorsed Al Gore and John McCain, an unorthodox step for us. Better than anyone in Washington, McCain made the case against creeping income inequality and political corruption. Oftentimes, we found ourselves wishing that his Democratic counterparts spoke with such clarity. Indeed, a cover story we ran urged him to switch parties. We didn't expect that he would listen, but we didn't expect that he would transform himself into a Sean Hannity conservative, either. And we certainly failed to appreciate how his impulsiveness could lead him to such spectacularly bad decisions (Sarah Palin) and such a spectacularly incoherent campaign. The implosion of the old McCain, if he ever truly existed as we imagined, saddens us, not least because the candidate he's become is so poorly suited to the challenges of the moment.
So, there are two fundamental problems with John McCain's Maverick schtick for 2008:
1) The intervening years since his first presidential run have proven that he never was a maverick, just an impostor of 1950's movie characters and relic automobiles, and

2) Mavericks (be they unbranded cows, elderly actors or long-discontinued car models, are irrelevant to the complex problems of governance that our economy and our nation faces in the 21st Century.

1 comment:

Zimbel said...

Off-topic:

Not that it's a surprise, but he's descended from a slaveholder, William Alexander McCain. Apparently, he doesn't attend the reunions.