In Do we need another T.R.? Los Angeles Times 11/26/06, Times assistant editor Matt Welch looks at the marvelous Maverick McCain with a less than adoring eye, something still too rare among our "press corps". Noting the Maverick's talent for allowing people to read large amounts of their own preferences into his positions, Welch writes:
Sifting through McCain's four bestselling books and nearly three decades of work on Capitol Hill, a distinct approach toward governance begins to emerge. And it's one that the electorate ought to be particularly worried about right now. McCain, it turns out, wants to restore your faith in the U.S. government by any means necessary, even if that requires thousands of more military deaths, national service for civilians and federal micromanaging of innumerable private transactions. He'll kick down the doors of boardroom and bedroom, mixing Democrats' nanny-state regulations with the GOP's red-meat paternalism in a dangerous brew of government activism. And he's trying to accomplish this, in part, for reasons of self-realization.
He indulges in some pop psychology in the course of arguing that McCain's speeches often rely on imagery similar to "12-step" therapy phrases:
What is this higher power that ennobles McCain's crankiness? Just as it is for many soldiers, it's the belief that Americans "were meant to transform history" and that sublimating the individual in the service of that "common national cause" is the wellspring of honor and purpose. (But unlike most soldiers, McCain has been in a position to prod and even compel civilians to join his cause.)
He warns that people should look carefully at the implications of McCain's brand of National Greatness conservatism and not simply read their own wishes into it:
But chances are he will eventually see a grave national threat in what you consider harmless, or he'll prescribe a remedy that you consider unconscionable. Nowhere is that more evident than in his ideas about the Iraq war.
McCain has been banging the drum from nearly Day One to put more boots on the ground in Iraq. "There are a lot of things that we can do to salvage this," he said on "Meet the Press" on Nov. 12, "but they all require the presence of additional troops." McCain is more inclined to start wars and increase troop levels than George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. He has supported every U.S. military intervention of the last two decades, urged both presidents to rattle their sabers louder over North Korea and Iran, lamented the Pentagon's failure to intervene in Darfur and Rwanda and supported a general policy of "rogue state rollback." He's a fan of Roosevelt's Monroe-Doctrine-on-steroids stick-wielding in Latin America. And - like Bush - he thinks too much multilateralism can screw up a perfectly good war. (my emphasis)
Yep, that's our bold Maverick.