Not too long ago, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was considered the consummate maverick. A stubbornly principled politician who was willing to buck his party on issues that didn't match his values and a lawmaker Democrats often relied on to kickstart bipartisan initiatives.
But ever since the four-term senator started fending off a primary challenge from former Congressman J.D. Hayworth, McCain appears to have embarked on an ideological march rightward and sought to shed the "maverick" label.
Joe Hagan of New York Magazine offers a lengthy profile of the John McCain of 2010 in which he describes the Arizona Senator as a frustrated, anxious and at times insecure man, engaged in a desperate struggle for his political existence.
Below, a sampling of some great tidbits from Hagan's piece:
After Vietnam: McCain's writings from the seventies admitted to almost no personal change after his release from prison, as he appeared to repress emotional fallout and instead famously flew to Rio a year after his release because you "have a better chance of getting laid," as he once told a fellow POW, later divorcing his wife to marry the wealthy blonde heiress Cindy Lou Hensley. A military psychologist, examining McCain after his five-and-a-half-year imprisonment, concluded that he had a "histrionic pattern of personality adjustment," meaning he needed attention.
A Trusted Aide: "There are fewer people who are willing to stand up and speak truth to power and tell McCain he's being an asshole," says an ex-staffer in McCain's 2008 campaign. "And the chief person who did that is Mark Salter--and if you do that for long enough, you lose your capacity to fight. You're totally exhausted by it."
The Fighter: "Does John McCain move around occasionally on issues?" asks Wes Gullett, a former McCain aide in Arizona and longtime supporter. "Yes. He's fighting a fight. He's a fighter. He goes to the sound of the battle."
On Scott Brown: When Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's old seat and agreed to campaign for McCain in Arizona, McCain could hardly believe he needed a political neophyte from the Northeast to help him draw crowds in his own state, especially one who had declined McCain's invitation to campaign for him in Massachusetts (fearing McCain's Establishment taint). After a rally at Grand Canyon University, McCain was annoyed when Brown tried giving him campaign advice while they drove in a car together. Three nights later, Brown and McCain were scheduled to have dinner, but McCain canceled.
"Hi, Mom!": People who have spent years with McCain say he has always been emotionally remote, virtually alone even while surrounded by staffers. When he calls his own mother, he announces, "Hi, Mother, this is John McCain."
On Hayworth: "That's no way to go out," says Grant Woods, a longtime friend of McCain's. "You don't live the life he's lived and lose to a goof like J. D. Hayworth."