I've been saying for months now that John McCain's image as a maverick independent is a completely overblown media creation. I've been saying that he's actually quite conservative and nowhere near the center of the road. It's good to be right.
I figured that as the campaign went on, someone would get the bright idea to actually take a look at the facts behind the legend of the Straight Talk Express. I didn't really expect it to come from the Arizona Republic - a paper not known for taking shots at Republicans - but there it was in yesterday's paper. (In all reality, the paper was probably trying to reassure Arizona voters that John McCain really was conservative so they wouldn't feel bad about voting for him.)
The Republic looked at John McCain's voting record over the last 1o years to see how often he actually bucked the party on issues where it mattered because the vote was close. The answer: not often. In the last 10 years, McCain voted with Republicans 14 times when the vote was tied or settled by one vote. He voted with Democrats a mere 4 times during that stretch, including once when Dick Cheney could have cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the Republicans.
Casting a vote on the Democratic side once every two and a half years hardly makes someone a maverick. And the facts go on.
The article says that the Washington Post found that McCain voted with Republicans 88.3% of the time this term. That puts him on par with Lindsey Graham and ahead of Jon Kyl, who's the Minority Whip. McCain is truer to the Republican Party than party leadership is!
Furthermore, Congressional Quarterly found that during the last term McCain sided with the president's position on legislation 95% of the time. To get any more in line with the president you'd pretty much have to be George Bush.
Also, not to beat a deadhorse, but if there was ever a time for a maverick to break with the president, it would make sense to do it when the president's disapproval ratings were at an all-time historical high.
In sum, McCain is a much weaker candidate than he appears. For all the talk about how flawed it turns out the Democrats are, McCain has fully aligned himself with a failed presidency and out of step party. Pretty soon, the news of the maverick gap is going to spread beyond his hometown paper and the word will be out. Then we'll see how straight talking McCain is really willing to be.