John McCain's maverickness is getting called into question after an interview the senator gave this week, where McCain downplays the nickname and denies ever viewing himself in that regard.
"I never considered myself a maverick," McCain tells Newsweek. "I consider myself a person who serves the people of Arizona to the best of his abilities."
Because McCain's former running mate, Sarah Palin, apparently used the term 15 times when describing McCain at a campaign stop in Tucson a few weeks ago, Web sites like The Huffington Post, Politico, and quite a few newspapers, including the Washington Post and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, have jumped at the chance to catch McCain contradicting himself.
The Huffington Post even points to a 2008 McCain campaign ad where the term "maverick" was used to describe McCain, and claims "until now, McCain was never reluctant to embrace the 'maverick' label."
This, however, isn't entirely the case.
Despite the grotesque use of the word during his campaigns, McCain has often downplayed the whole "maverick" moniker. He even included his dislike of the label in the prologue of his 2002 book, Worth the Fighting For.
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"I'm sixty-four years old as we begin this book, which seems a bit old to be routinely described as a maverick. American popular culture admits few senior citizens to its ranks of celebrated nonconformists. We lack the glamorous carelessness of youth and risk becoming parodies of our younger selves. Witnessing the behavior can make people uncomfortable, like watching an aging, overweight Elvis mock the memory of the brash young man who had swaggered across cultural color lines.
"I fear many things, but only a few things more than appearing ridiculous. And my chest does not swell with pride when I encounter every reference to 'Senator John McCain, the maverick Arizona Republican,' even when it is meant as a compliment. I worry that the act might be getting a little tired for a man of my years. Better for old men to be known as collegial team players, who expect to find the warmth of their associations a tonic for fears of approaching infirmity and extinction."
As much as McCain may claim to dislike the label, until he tells his former running mate to put a sock in it when using the term to describe him 15 times in one campaign stop, he'll always be "The Maverick" to us.