John McCain: Maybe He Really is a Maverick

No one who’s President (or close to it) is above criticism. Even titans like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson got ripped in the media by a journalist named James Callender (it was Callender who broke the story about Thomas Jefferson allegedly fathering several children by one of his slaves, Sally Hemmings). Given that this is how our politicians get treated, it’s no surprise that whatever moves McCain or Obama make and whatever they say, there are plenty of people who will spin it negative.

McCain’s offer to delay the debates, suspend his campaign, and work together on this bailout thing is the latest exhibit from the world of spin.

First, the negative spin then the positive. One could argue that McCain was playing presidential politics with a serious economic crisis, and in fact some commentators made that argument. One could also say that McCain wanted to avoid the debate under these current circumstances because he’s weak on the economy anyway.

But there are some interesting counter arguments to be made. The accepted wisdom on Barack Obama is that he is a mesmerizing public speaker, but he struggles in the debate format. This was why Hillary Clinton wanted to have so many debates with him late in their race. Not only would it spotlight his weakness, but it would pull him off the campaign trail and away from his area of strength. Thus, it would make more sense that if McCain was only interested in presidential politics, he would not have offered to delay the debate.

Also, McCain has slipped noticeably in the polls. If all he cared about was winning the presidency then the smart thing would be for him to increase his campaigning.

Really suspending the campaign for an economic summit truly seemed like a “mavericky” thing to do. McCain has always enjoyed the maverick image more than his conservative base has. When he shows his independence by saying that maybe some pro choice individuals might make good Republican Vice Presidents, it drives his social conservative base crazy. But when he picks a Sarah Palin, or when he puts the economy before his quest for the presidency, it makes conservatives fall in love all over again. And it grabs the attention of some independents.

Maybe McCain felt he had to do something unorthodox since he has admitted that the economy is not his strength and polls show that it is the number one issue with voters. The polls also show that the majority of Americans have more faith in Senator Obama on this issue. But if McCain can woo a few independents and keep his base energized with his unorthodox thinking, he’ll be competitive on Election Day.