I like Newsweek, I honestly do. The writing is often insightful, the magazine gives ample space for serious topics to be covered intelligently, and the writers often strive to find a fresh perspective to approach their stories from. You go, Newsweek.
Of course, even Newsweek is prone to having a dud article now and again, and that's the case with this week's "McCain’s Awkward Gamble Could Pay Off in Next Month's Primary" by Daniel Stone. In this brief sketch, Stone discusses Sen. McCain's re-election strategy of transparently swinging to the right to stave off a challenge by J. D. Hayworth. McCain has been earning downright scornful press from the likes of the New York Times , Politico, and the Washington Post in recent weeks, and for good reason; sensing vulnerability from his right, and desperate not to lose a presidential election and a senate re-election inside of two years, McCain The Survivor has thrown McCain The Scrupulous overboard. Gone, the storyline goes, is the amiable, freewheelin' McCain that seemed like the perfect anti-politician in 2000, replaced by an angry, cut throat, Tea Party lovin' clone, out to win re-election at all costs. Why, this new McCain even denies ever having embraced the maverick label!
McCain has been earning criticism for seemingly jettisoning those qualities that made him stand out to begin with, yet Stone notes that his sharp right-ward turn appears to be salvaging his candidacy, and may even lead to a lopsided victory against Hayworth. That assessment seems fair enough, yet Stone carries it a bit too far by arguing that by making his naked pitch to the Republican base and fashioning himself as the kind of fire-breathing partisan he used to rally against, McCain is simply being his own man - just as he's always done. By taking a zig where we all thought he'd zag - by being "....a lone thinker, someone who keeps everyone guessing" writes Stone - McCain the Maverick lives!
I'll buy the argument that being a maverick means one marches to the beat of his own drummer. But the John McCain who is working overtime to remain in the senate is a far, far different creature than the John McCain who challenged the Republican status quo earlier in the decade. He may be able to salvage his career, but this once-honorable politician seems to have done so at the expense of his good name. Nice try, Newsweek.