If It Walks Like a Duck, It’s No Maverick
This is getting to be depressing. Maybe it’s time to go back to Mali, to Tombouctou—for the next month, at least, until after election day. After all, it’s not too hot there right now, and the Niger River is still high enough for the riverboat to make its way from Mopti to Gao, a leisurely trip with not a lot to do but watch for Tuarags over the sand dunes along the riverbank. There, perhaps, Sarah Palin’s dishonest, deceitful, and decadent (yes, decadent) head wouldn’t be haunting my waking hours.
After eight years of spurious attacks, abuse of the English language, and empty rhetoric (not to mention uncalled for wars and economic politics that do nothing but take from the poor and give to the rich), I am getting so tired of it all I can hardly respond—though that is exactly what “they” want. So, though I would rather do most anything else, I feel I must add my voice to the chorus singing against Palin and McCain’s depiction of themselves as “mavericks.”
A maverick is a stray, an unbranded stray, a young animal that has wandered out of sight of the herd. It becomes the property of whomever finds it and brands it.
Only in that last sense is Palin anything of a maverick: McCain found her and branded her. Oh, did he ever brand her (or, rather, his herders did—for he has recently been branded, too, and brought back into the herd, though he never did really stray out of sight)!
If McCain and Palin want a metaphor that suits them, it is not “maverick.” “Loose cannons” works much better. Palin never really has fit with the Republican party. She has always done whatever she wanted, not what the party wanted (until recently, that is; until she was branded for the vice presidential nomination).
If for no other reason, McCain’s temper puts him out of the maverick and into the loose-cannon category. It is the only thing making him different from all of the other Republicans who have voted with Bush 90% of the time—and that’s the majority of them.
“Maverick,” as McCain and Palin envision it, comes from the TV show, with the Republicans imagining themselves as one or another of the Maverick brothers, Bret and Bart, or cousin Beau. They like to imagine themselves in James Garner’s tie and hat, able to out-talk and out-think just about anyone. Strangely enough, they also imagine that they have the honesty and integrity at the core of the Maverick characters (I guess self-deception is a necessary core to their game).
Certainly, neither Palin’s nor McCain’s performance in the debates showed any maverick qualities. McCain was nothing but mean and arrogant (muttering “horseshit” a couple of times, from what I understand) while Palin proved to be nothing more than a Potemkin candidate, a false front for fooling the passers-by.