Disaster: How McCain Ruined the Best Brand in Politics

As any political observer surely recalls, it wasn't too long ago that John McCain was the most popular politician in America. The national media, which McCain described as his "base," not only adored him, but gave him the benefit of the doubt when he found it necessary to cynically flip-flop and move to the right.

During, and in the wake of, his 2000 campaign, McCain developed one of the best brands in politics. To know McCain was to think of the phrases his handlers had pushed into the culture, such as "straight-talk."

When McCain began his descent into becoming a partisan hack, the political establishment didn't want to believe it. He reversed course on all of the policy positions that made him interesting, but pundits still called him a "maverick." He embraced far-right lunatics like Jerry Falwell, and the establishment dismissed it as understandable calculating.

But as John Heilemann explained in an insightful new piece, McCain kept pushing his luck, and ultimately destroyed the best brand in politics. Instead of a straight-talking maverick, everyone now sees "a liar, a fraud, and an opportunist with acute anger-management issues," as McCain and his team have come "perilously close to losing control of his public image:"


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