McCain: The Myth of a Maverick

Matt Welch

Palgrave Macmillan Trade

John McCain is one of the most familiar, sympathetic, and overexposed figures in American politics, yet his concrete governing philosophy and actual track record have been left curiously unexamined, mostly because of the massive distractions in his official biography, but also because of his ingenious strategy of talking ad infinitum to each and every access-craving media person who happens by. The more he has spouted, the less journalists have bothered trying to see through the fog.

        McCain gives the voting public what it wants but can’t find -- a flesh-and-bones political portrait of a man onto whom people are forever projecting their own ideological fantasies. It is a psychological key for decoding his allegedly ‘maverick’ actions, and the first realistic assessment of what a John McCain presidency may look like. McCain will quickly lay out in overlapping detail the root cause of the senator’s worldview: his personal transformation from underachieving punk to war hawk uber-patriot, in which he used the "higher power" of American nationalism to save his life and soul.

        As McCain wrenches himself inside-out in pursuit of the prize that eluded him in 2000, McCain will look behind the war hero, behind the maverick reformer. Journalist and pundit Matt Welch brings to this project an investigative eye and a coolly analytical mindset to provide Republicans, Democrats and Independents a picture of the man in full before they enter the voting booth in 2008.



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Praise for McCain: The Myth of a Maverick

"[E]xcoriates John McCain as a calculating flip-flopper and the media for mythologizing him as a straight shooter… contains entertaining tales of equivocation aboard the Straight Talk Express." – The Washington Post
"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 with gusto. You don't have to follow him every inch of the way into libertarian politics--as I do not--to be dazzled by the light he casts on a telling tragedy of American politics."--Todd Gitlin, author of The Bulldozer and the Big Tent: Blind Republicans, Lame Democrats, and the Recovery of American Ideals
"John McCain's love affair with the news media is a decade old. But McCain makes clear that that love affair is over."--Glenn Reynolds, author of An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths, and blogger at Instapundit

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Matt Welch

  • Matt Welch is the Editor-in-Chief of Reason magazine, and was formerly the Assistant Editorial Pages Editor of the Los Angeles Times. His work has appeared in such politically diverse outlets as Salon.com, the American Spectator, AlterNet, the Orange County Register, and the Columbia Journalism Review. Welch also maintains a popular blog at mattwelch.com. He lives in Washington, D.C.


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McCain: The Myth of a Maverick

Matt Welch