When McCain is running for president or thinking of running for president, he's a bipartisan maverick. When he's not, he's a conservative die-hard. And now that the presidency is plainly out of reach forever, he's taken his non-campaign mode to its natural extreme and become a snarling right-wing pit bull. This was entirely predictable, since McCain's public persona has always shifted with the political winds, and the political winds have finally spoken decisively about his future.
And yet, somehow he's managed to maintain his reputation for maverickiness through it all. I wonder if the press will ever figure out just how badly they've been played by this guy over the years?
First, I don't think that's empirically correct: McCain's peak period of maverickiness was during Bush's first term, while he returned to the conservative fold during Bush's second term, when he was closer to his next WH run. I'm don't think it's (primarily) political winds that move McCain -- just as with his buddy Joe Lieberman, McCain appears to me to be moved more by personal resentments and vendettas.
Second, though...I wonder. Yeah, he got clobbered, and yeah, he's way old, but I'm sure that John McCain believes that everything that has happened since January 20 has confirmed that John McCain was right about everything. I don't know; I've had a lot of the health care debate on in the background this week, and I keep hearing from John Kerry, Tom Harkin, Chris Dodd, Lamar Alexander, and John McCain, and my guess is that none of them are cured: they all still see the President of the United States when they look in the mirror. I think my rule of thumb is that until they cut their first Viagra ad, every former presidential candidate still thinks that he or she still could make a comeback. I'm not saying that John McCain will run again, or even that he's currently actively thinking of running again...but I'm guessing that the guy in his mirror hasn't changed, and that it's occurred to him more than once that he beat Romney and Huck already, and Palin can't really be serious, and no one has ever heard of Pawlenty, and he's John McCain, isn't he?