Nobody actually believes that the John McCain of 2010 resembles a "maverick" in any sense of the word. Some think McCain was never a maverick to begin with. And yet what's more mavericky of McCain than claiming he never even thought of himself as a maverick, which is what he told Newsweek recently:
Many of the GOP's most faithful, the kind who vote in primaries despite 115-degree heat, tired long ago of McCain the Maverick, the man who had crossed the aisle to work with Democrats on issues like immigration reform, global warming, and restricting campaign contributions. "Maverick" is a mantle McCain no longer claims; in fact, he now denies he ever was one. "I never considered myself a maverick," he told me. "I consider myself a person who serves the people of Arizona to the best of his abilities."
Clearly, McCain is trying to make himself more palatable to Republican primary voters who don't want a senator that will buck his own party and work with the Democrats. The one glaring hole in this strategy, though, which is obvious enough to anyone who paid attention to politics for the past few years, is that McCain did consider himself a maverick very recently. In fact, he ran for president on the label in 2008. Talking Points Memo highlights an official campaign ad that refers to McCain as "the original maverick." Politico's Ben Smith points out another one, which calls McCain and Sarah Palin "the original mavericks," and a town hall in which McCain identifies himself and Palin as "two mavericks." Here's another clip we found from the first presidential debate, in which McCain says that the American people know him as the "maverick of the Senate."
Meanwhile, Washington Monthly's Steve Benen finds dozens of "maverick" references on McCain's Senate website; in some instances, the word is used interchangeably with McCain's own name. Certainly there are many, many more examples out there of McCain promoting himself as a "maverick." The Internet is going to have a lot of fun with this one.
The McCain Mutiny [Newsweek]