Todd Purdum has a pretty extensive and in depth article on John Sidney McCain III just up at Vanity Fair. Here are the take away quotes and ethos of the article:
The prevailing question about John McCain this year is: What happened? What happened to that other John McCain, the refreshingly unpredictable figure who stood apart from his colleagues and seemed to promise something better than politics as usual? The question may miss the point. It’s quite possible that nothing at all has changed about John McCain, a ruthless and self-centered survivor who endured five and a half years in captivity in North Vietnam, and who once told Torie Clarke that his favorite animal was the rat, because it is cunning and eats well. It’s possible to see McCain’s entire career as the story of a man who has lived in the moment, who has never stood for any overriding philosophy in any consistent way, and who has been willing to do all that it takes to get whatever it is he wants. He himself said, in the thick of his battle with Hayworth, “I’ve always done whatever’s necessary to win.” Maybe the rest of us just misunderstood.
Yes, no kidding, you certainly did misunderstand. Or were willfully blind because the bloated national media depiction of McCain has always been as fraudulent as he has always been.
There is a difference between facing a changed and shrunken external reality (which McCain surely now does) and changing one’s essential nature (which McCain almost certainly has not). He has always had a reckless streak, and he has repeatedly skated by after conduct that would have doomed others less resourceful, resilient, or privileged. As a navy pilot, he crashed three planes before being shot down by a surface-to-air missile over Hanoi. He spent harrowing years in captivity in North Vietnam, and parlayed that fame into a high-profile job as the navy’s liaison to the Senate, and then parlayed that—with the help of his second wife’s family fortune—into a political career in his adopted state of Arizona, first winning a seat in the House of Representatives in 1982, and then taking Barry Goldwater’s Senate seat upon his retirement, in 1986.
Yes, indeed. Put more simply, McCain is a dilettante who has always relied on his blue blood and family history, and then his POW status and wife and family’s largesse, to get everywhere he has gone; he has never been a man of accomplishment of his own accord. Nice of you to finally catch on.