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McCain: The Myth of a Maverick

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Matt Welch

"How the journalistic elite got taken for a ride on the Straight Talk Express is one of the revelatory sagas of modern-day Washington. Matt Welch has the audacity to think that John McCain's views matter, not only his legends, and he smokes out McCain … see full wiki

Author: Matt Welch
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
1 review about McCain: The Myth of a Maverick

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  • May 27, 2008
You don't have to be a libertarian, I think, to find something disturbing in the definitiveness with which John McCain declares (as Matt Welch quotes from the Senator's autobiography Worth the Fighting For: The Education of an American Maverick, and the Heroes Who Inspired Him), "I have no reluctance to subordinate my independence to a cause greater than my own self interest. But that cause is my country, first and last. ... Were I to believe otherwise, the independence I have prized all my life will have been nothing more than egotism" (p. 83). For voters or interested citizens of any political persuasion, "McCain: The Myth of a Maverick" performs a valuable service in showing just how much John McCain means what he says.

Most voters, I would imagine, have some vague idea of John McCain's biography, particularly his years as a prisoner of the brutal Vietnamese communists. But Welch excels in showing how McCain's roots influence his world view and his sense of where he wants to lead this country. The author gives us many examples of McCain disparaging those who pursue self-interest or personal gain while honoring those who place "country" (which in practice means government service) before "self" (the productive sector). But given that McCain is a lifelong federal employee, the son and grandson of lifelong federal employees, this is really little more than *nostrism*, the egoism that extravagantly praises a collective of which he is himself a part.

The greatest merit of Welch's "McCain," is his proof of how much McCain is driven by this idea of "a cause greater," and by his belief that, as again quoted from his autobiography, "the proper object of every American's citizenship" is "national greatness" (p. 94). Combine that with his stated preference that he "would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt" (p. 95), then ask not what you can do for your country because President McCain is going to tell you. (To be fair, President Obama and President Rodham possess this same urge to march at the head of a well-drilled body of citizens all subordinating their independence to "a cause greater" chosen for us by our Leader)

It's probably "nothing more than egotism" to believe that while a man can subordinate his own life to whatever he wants, it is grossly immoral for him to make that decision about anyone else's life. Other people are not your property. Though it is sadly not getting the same degree of attention as some other McCain biographies out there, "McCain: The Myth of a Maverick" raises some pretty profound questions. We had better start answering them before we find they've all been answered for us

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