Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

On the stimulus package, John McCain proves he never really was a maverick

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Originally published on on Mon, 02/16/2009 – 3:05pm

The “M” word came back over the weekend: Maverick.

“Well, what happened was Senator Gregg was very interested in serving in the Cabinet,” David Axelrod said on FOX News, “and I think that he had second thoughts. As he said — as you know, he’s quite the maverick in the Senate. He said that he finally concluded he didn’t belong in anyone’s Cabinet, and so he had second thoughts and he withdrew and we’re going to move on.”

Yes, Sen. Judd Gregg isn’t a total right-wing ideologue on some issues. But a maverick?

Compared to the original Maverick — John McCain — Gregg might be a maverick, but neither of them lately has fallen that far away from the GOP line.

Those who thought McCain was going to jump back into being a maverick, a role he gave up in 2006 in running for president, have been bitterly disappointed in his behavior.

McCain was a maverick in being the only one to vote NO on DC voting rights, when the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee voted 11-1. But going against Democrats and Republicans (all of whom voted the other way) is beyond ‘maverickdom.’

But otherwise, McCain has ridden alongside the GOP leadership, begging for the whip to get his right-wing horse to go even faster.

In particular, McCain went out of his way to emphasize that the stimulus package wasn’t bipartisan: “I hope the next time we will sit down together and conduct truly bipartisan negotiations. This was not a bipartisan bill.”

President Obama sought Republican input, an action much more gracious than any committed by George W. Bush. And Republicans got tax cuts, which aren’t stimulative. A true partisan bill would have had no tax cuts.

Webster defines maverick as “an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party.” McCain and Gregg are Republicans who vote the extreme party line, but when they don’t go to the extremes (not as often as you might think), they are “mavericks.”

By that definition, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) is a maverick, yet nobody calls him that. Maybe that is because apparently only Republicans can be “mavericks.”

Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins really were mavericks, voting against the party line amid huge backlash, especially for Specter. Yet the GOP doesn’t think of them as mavericks, but traitors.

Like many illusions of the Old West, the John McCain definition of maverick never really was true. Picking a few items here and there to go against the extremes of your party isn’t mavericky or all that risky. Redefining himself was only designed to mask his involvement in the Keating Five and nothing more.

The man who used the slogan “Country First” in running for president went with “Party First” on the stimulus package.

But senators and House members who put country ahead of party and ideology — they are mavericks. And they come in at least two flavors: Democratic and Republican.


Written by democracysoup

February 16, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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