by Jim Nintzel
New York magazine profiles Sen. John McCain:
It has been a very strange season in the political career of John McCain. The former maverick who once fought his own party on everything from tax cuts to torture, who built a reputation as a prickly independent, now marches in lockstep with his party, from his objection to Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court appointment to his support of a draconian new immigration law in Arizona that would have repulsed him three years ago. When Newsweek asked him whether a maverick would take such positions, he responded that he’d never considered himself a maverick. It all seemed to defy logic.
But did it really? For John McCain, being a maverick always meant following different and contradictory scripts, according to his whim and the political realities of the moment. Long dependent on advisers to harness and manage his political energies, McCain has never resolved an inherent contradiction in his brain trust, between Rick Davis, a veteran lobbyist who helped McCain win the Republican nomination, and Mark Salter, the speechwriter who single-handedly crafted the maverick image of McCain from the early aughts. Both represent distinct parts of McCain’s psyche, the former McCain’s instinctual need to survive and fight, the latter his need for honor and dignity in the Washington snakepit (it was Salter who wrote McCain’s concession speech). And both have served him well. But this year, as McCain has been gripped by fear of political mortality, one of the voices in his head is, increasingly, drowning out the other. In a sense, the campaign he’s running is a continuation of his presidential campaign, the same battle on different ground. And though for the nation the stakes are much lower, for one man—John McCain—they are even higher.
Some fascinating behind-the-scenes insights in the story. Read the whole thing here.