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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Unmasking the Bogus Maverick

I know we’re all juiced about the Clinton-Obama race. But whoever wins the Dem nod, McCain’s nom is a done deal, and there is a need for some serious oppo-focus if Dems want to shut him down. Toward that end, Arianna gets things off to a good start with her perceptive HuffPo via Alternet post on the McCain of today vs. his saner persona of a few years back. Here’s a taste, with a richly-deserved b-slap for the msm:

So, please, stop pretending that McCain is still the dashing rebel that made knees buckle back in the day — and stop referring to him, as the New York Times did this weekend, as “moderate” and a “centrist.”
What is it going to take for you guys to face reality? McCain verbally stroking Rove should be the equivalent of that great scene at the end of The Godfather where Diane Keaton’s Kay watches in horror as Al Pacino transforms, in the kiss of a ring, from her loving husband Michael into the next Don Corleone. This ain’t the same man you married.
…The Thousand Year War Express is careening along the road to the White House, and the new John McCain is gunning the engine. And he has to be stopped.

Now take it on over to The Nation, where David Roberts picks up on one of Arianna’s themes in “John McCain and Climate Change.” As Roberts explains:

The media touts McCain’s stance on climate as evidence of his straight talkin’ maverickosity. Conservative stalwarts assail McCain for his heresy (Romney attacked McCain’s climate bill in Michigan and Florida). The public hails him for reaching across the aisle. Even Democrats and greens seem inclined to give him a grade of Good Enough on climate.
This is a classic case of what our president calls the soft bigotry of low expectations. Judged against his fellow Republicans, McCain is a paragon of atmospheric wisdom. Judged against the climate and energy legislation afoot in Congress, he falls short. Judged against the two leading Democratic presidential candidates, he is a pale shadow. Judged against the imperatives of climate science — that is to say, judged against brute physical reality — he isn’t even in the ballpark.
It’s time to stop grading McCain on a curve.

Roberts has plenty more, enough to put a permanent end to the oft-cited McCain-as-green-gipper myth. But Paul Waldman’s American Prospect article “The Maverick Myth” is the capper for today.

A Lexis-Nexis search reveals that in the month of January alone, McCain was referred to in the media as a “maverick” more than 800 times. Pick up today’s newspaper or turn on cable news, and you won’t have to wait long before a reporter or pundit calls McCain a maverick.
According to Congressional Quarterly’s party unity scores, which track how often members of Congress side with their party on key votes, over the course of his career McCain has voted with his party 84 percent of the time—not the highest score in the Senate but hardly evidence of a great deal of independence. Similarly, the American Conservative Union gives McCain a lifetime rating of 82.3, making him a solid friend of the right’s. And according to the widely respected Poole-Rosenthal rankings, McCain was the eighth-most conservative senator in the 110th Senate.
…Reporters decided long ago that John McCain’s character is of a higher order than ordinary mortals. In their telling, his motives are pure, his every word and deed speaks of unrivaled courage, and his fierce independence makes him a “maverick.” Everything McCain does is either highlighted or ignored based on whether it fits this pre-existing portrait. So when McCain lards his campaign with lobbyists and GOP insiders, as he did in its initial formation, or when he genuflects before religious radicals like Jerry Falwell and John Hagee, reporters dismiss it as a momentary aberration not representing the real John McCain.

No matter who wins the Democratic nomination, a prerequisite for winning in November is putting an end to McCain’s free ride with the media, and the progressive blogosphere will have to lead the charge. The aformentioned articles are a good beginning for unmasking McCain as the GOP’s flip-flopping, pseudo-maverick errand boy for the fat cats.

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