It seems like a fair question. No one apparently knows. Not the pundits. Not his opponent Obama. Maybe the wife with eight homes, 13 cars, one jet, and Oscar de la Renta dresses knows what makes him tick. Or perhaps his North Vietnamese jailers who were forced to keep a watchful eye on him know him best.
Trying to affix a label to this protean politician is perhaps impossible. To say he's a maverick does little justice to his Rubik's Cube personality. So far, one of the best descriptions comes courtesy of Slate's Mickey Kaus who called him a "drama queen" in Wednesday's column.
Kaus goes on to write: "No convention today! ... Ok, it's on! ... The economy's sound... No, wait, it's going to fall apart unless I go to Washington tomorrow! ... We need a commission! ... We need to fire somebody! ... Get me Andrew Cuomo! ... I want ten more debates! ... But let's postpone the one we've scheduled! ... Do you get the impression a McCain presidency would be a bit exhausting? ..."
Despite there only being about five weeks left before Election Day, that still leaves plenty of time for McCain to keep re-inventing himself or reverse course. He reminds one of those television variety shows from the late 60s and early 70s, when performers like Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Tim Conway and Jackie Gleason would adopt different guises.
So, without further fanfare, here then is a list of descriptions that can easily be applied to the Republican presidential nominee:
Mercurial, flighty, impulsive, passionate, chameleonic, moody, quick-tempered, spontaneous, hasty, emotional, uninhibited, rash, reckless, imprudent, foolhardy, unwise, madcap, devil-may-care, extemporaneous, impetuous, volatile, capricious, changeable, sulky, manic-depressive, abrasive, sarcastic, biting, acerbic, grating, curt, brusque, insensitive, flip-flopper, erratic, unpredictable, inconsistent; hotheaded, fiery, careless, irritable, irascible, impatient, touchy, high-strung, neurotic, melodramatic, fitful, unstable, turbulent, unsettled, wavering, faltering, ambivalent, divided, blowing hot and cold, wishy-washy, incautious, negligent, heedless, irresponsible, slapdash, and disorganized.