The Vanity Fair piece on John McCain is well worth reading, not because it pushes the “he was never a maverick” angle well (personally, I don’t completely agree with that angle), but because it paints an interesting portrait of an old man who only knows life in the Senate and can’t adjust to new political realities:
“McCain doesn’t understand, at a fundamental level, media and communications in the modern age. All of this stuff that’s changed in very rapid fashion—the Twitter, the this, the that, or the other. For him it’s the Sunday shows, and things like that. It’s kind of like, ‘Where’s Johnny Apple?’” (R. W. Apple Jr., the late New York Times correspondent and editor, had been a friend since their days in Vietnam.)
The Senate is McCain’s whole life, his reason for being. “This is what he does,” one former aide says. “He is a United States senator. This is his ecology. It’s a big job, but it’s a really small world. It’s like a killer whale born in captivity in SeaWorld; it doesn’t know any better. It doesn’t know it’s supposed to be in the Pacific Ocean.”
The reason he hates Obama (the article describes in detail his dislike for Dr. Utopia) is “who the hell are you, punk, I’m John fucking McCain, king of the Senate”. It’s not so different from Marty Peretz “I’m the fucking editor of the great New Republic, who are you to call me a bigot.”
I’m not sure that there ever was a time when very many people cared about the Sunday shows or took The New Republic very seriously. But there was a time when there some kind of pretense of that. That time is over now and it’s tough for people who spent their entire lives buying into that pretense to adjust.