Media Embrace McCain’s ‘Maverick’ Re-Branding Effort

By choosing Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) as his running mate, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has tried to reinvigorate the perception that he is a “maverick.” Last week in their respective speeches to the Republican National Convention, McCain and Palin underscored this point by branding themselves as the “maverick” ticket:

— PALIN: That is only one more reason to take the maverick of the Senate and put him in the White House.

— McCAIN: You know, I’ve been called a maverick; someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes it’s meant as a compliment and sometimes it’s not. What it really means is I understand who I work for. I don’t work for a party. I don’t work for a special interest. I don’t work for myself. I work for you.

The McCain campaign has amplified this talking point with a new ad (that lies about Palin’s record on the so-called Bridge To Nowhere) called “The Original Mavericks.”

On Fox News yesterday, the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes observed that this re-branding effort is something that “the media has bought.” Barnes is right. Since the convention last week, the media appear to be more than happy to comply with McCain’s effort to put the “maverick” brand back into his campaign — hook, line and sinker. Watch a compilation:

In fact, there is nothing about any of McCain’s policy proposals that could in any way justify calling him a “maverick.” His economic, energy, health care and national security policies are all either in line with President Bush’s or in some cases further to the right.

Indeed, CNN’s Paul Begala noted last week, “If McCain is a maverick reformer, then I’m a Hasidic diamond merchant.”

Just after the RNC, CNN’s Campbell Brown asked, “can he make the maverick label stick?” Of course, McCain has always been the media’s “maverick,” but unfortunately, the answer to Brown’s question is, it appears so.

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