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Hullabaloo


Friday, February 22, 2008

 
Maverick At War With Himself

by digby


David Brooks finally writes about something on which he actually is an authority (unlike, say, the buying habits of red state America) namely, John McCain. Brooks, you may recall, (along with William Kristol, who ironically now joins him as an op-ed columnist for the NY Times.) was one of the earliest McCainiacs, a believe as was St John, in the notion of GOP Fascism Lite, which they called National Greatness conservatism. (They are pretty much imperialist neocons, but they also want to go around building temples and monuments all over the country to America's great martial history.)

Anyway, Brooks loves McCain, especially his bloodthirsty nature. I believe his contacts in that campaign are probably impeccable. The picture he draws today is of a man with no center who has two separate groups of worshippers around him with different goals and separate ways of approaching politics. McCain the maverick and McCain the standard hypocritical GOP suck-up are at war with each other and the campaign has manifested that with two separate camps:

Davis is a creature of the political mainstream. He is even-tempered and charming. He is a lobbyist and a friend of lobbyists. He is a good manager. In policy terms, his tastes tend toward the Republican center.

Weaver is a renegade. He has a darker personality. He’s not a member of elite Washington circles and resented the way McCain would occasionally get pulled into them. Weaver is a less effective bureaucrat, but his policy instincts are more daring and independent.

The Davis-Weaver rivalry has lasted for so long because John McCain has a foot in each camp. McCain is, on one level, a figure of the Washington mainstream. He admires Alan Greenspan and Henry Kissinger. He appreciates a steady manager like Davis.

But McCain is also a renegade and a romantic. He loves tilting at the establishment and shaking things up. He loves books and movies in which the hero dies at the end while serving a noble, if lost, cause. He loves the insurgent/band-of-brothers ethos that Weaver exudes.

McCain was loyal to each camp in a house divided. But the poisons emanating from the rift have spread outward. They are the background for the article my colleagues at The New York Times published Thursday.


It's hard to see how two such different camps could exist in one campaign since they are diametrically opposed to one another. More importantly it seems dicey to have a president who has two such warring parts of his own personality.

McCain's strength is the fact that he seems to be someone very secure in his own skin, someone who's biography shows that he has been to hell and back and can't be frightened or shaken by anything. This kind of thing speaks to something far more complex and potentially dangerous. This is a man who is either a complete phony or has never fully come to understand himself or the profession he chose.

I vote for phony. I think the maverick label is a typical dashing, macho flyboy image that he's always enjoyed, but has nothing to do with who he actually is, which is a ... politician, in the most pejorative sense. The fools are the John Weavers' and the David Brooks' who see in him something glorious and heroic, which he may have been at one time, but long since left behind when he decided to systematically create the conditions for him to enter politics --- conditions which included leaving his first wife for a beautiful heiress (whom he very may well have been lucky enough to conveniently fall in love with as well)and buying himself a seat in congress. The rest is history.

And they call Hillary calculating...


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