You Wouldn’t Like John McCain When He’s Angry

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"You Wouldn’t Like John McCain When He’s Angry"

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The fact that John McCain is prone to odd temper tantrums has always been lurking behind the coverage of him, but it’s something that the worshipful press rarely highlights or thinks about. So I was glad that Manu Raju and Jonathan Martin and their headline writer at Politico delivered something a bit different with “Agitated McCain: Don’t call me a maverick”:

John McCain — who built his political persona and his 2008 presidential campaign around the claim that he’s a “maverick” — told Newsweek recently: “I never considered myself a maverick.”

When POLITICO asked McCain about the contradiction at the Capitol this week, the Arizona Republican grew visibly irritated and snapped: “I’ve been called a thousand things. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

He said 48 percent of the homeowners in his state are underwater on their mortgages. He said he’s always “done what’s best for my state and the nation.” Then he said it again, adding, “People can consider me whatever they want.”

Kudos, also, for straightforwardly reporting that the contradiction is a real, verifiable matter of fact and not a “controversy.” Normally I wouldn’t think it particularly matters if some famous politician is testy and has a bad temper. But McCain has been unusual among politicians I can think of in that he appears to have twice undergone substantial ideological remakes—to the left after 2000 and to the right after 2008—that appear to have been largely motivated by bitterness at losing elections and spite directed toward the winner.

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