If you pay even passing attention to national politics, you know that presumptive GOP presidential candidate John McCain is a maverick who bucks his own party’s line and never wavers in his political beliefs. At least, that’s what the corporate media say—reality tells a very different story.
The origin of the McCain the Maverick storyline is hard to pin down, but it gained a serious boost after CBS’s 60 Minutes delivered a mostly fawning segment headlined “The Maverick From Arizona” (10/12/97) that celebrated his quest to reform the campaign finance system. CBS interviewed several of McCain’s harshest home-state critics, but that tape was left on the cutting room floor (New Republic, 5/24/99). And CBS’s allegedly tough-as-nails correspondent Mike Wallace was clearly enamored with McCain, going so far as to say that he was considering joining his campaign: “I’m thinking I may quit my job if he gets the nomination,” Wallace declared (Washington Post, 6/8/98).
It’s hard to overstate how vital this “maverick” meme is to media coverage of McCain.
“McCain is nothing if not a maverick,” declared U.S. News & World Report (4/7/08), while CBS host Bob Schieffer (7/15/07) called him the “most famous maverick of the last half of the 20th century.” Time magazine (1/21/08) dubbed McCain “a free-ranging, fence-jumping, kick-the-corral maverick.”
McCain wasn’t much of a maverick when the media affixed that label to him. He became one very briefly, and then returned more or less back to where he started.
McCain’s voting pattern bears out this analysis. Before the 2000 campaign, McCain was consistently among the party’s most conservative members. In the 107th Congress (2001–02), McCain was the sixth most liberal Republican senator, according to the VoteView statistical analysis of voting patterns. In the next congressional session, he was the fourth most conservative.
And he’s more or less stayed there since. According to VoteView, McCain’s voting record in 2005–06 made him the second-most conservative senator in the 109th Congress, and the eighth-most conservative in the 110th Senate. Outside of McCain’s brief tack to the middle, his overall voting record makes him a reliable member of his party’s caucus.Read the rest of the story here ....