The Phoenix New Times has a wealth of very interesting pieces on Sen. John McCain and his ties to Arizona politics. Noted reporter Tom Fitzpatrick—who’s written copiously about the subject—had this to say in 1992:
Tell the real John McCain story and you indict the entire political system. It is not a pretty story. No one really wants to know. I truly believe that if you spelled it out so people could really understand the McCain phenomenon, few would thank you. Instead, they would probably be inclined to hate you for the information and discount anything you had to say on any other matter in the future. There is, after all, validity to the legend about shooting the messenger.
Voters have been comfortable in supporting McCain because he is the mirror image of everything this superficial Sun Belt culture teaches us to admire. On the surface, he is the war hero with an earnest, pleasing personality. He is a family man and friend to Mr. Average Man, to the downtrodden, to the Native Americans and the poor. He loves Sun City residents, too, as well as the blacks, although few can recall having ever seen him in the presence of a black person.
McCain is the son and grandson of Navy admirals, an Annapolis graduate, Navy pilot and former Pentagon lobbyist. It was while in the Pentagon that McCain curried favor with John Tower, the powerful Senator John Tower of Texas who believed there was never a weapons system too costly to be purchased. It was Tower who tipped McCain off to the career opportunity of moving to Tempe, Arizona, so that he could run for the seat in Arizona's First Congressional District being vacated after 30 years by John Rhodes. Barely here long enough to qualify for a driver's license, McCain won a four-way Republican primary in 1982 with a mere 32 percent of the vote.
He became a formidable vote-getter by the simple habit of wrapping himself in the American flag, a most convenient way of reminding voters that he had been a prisoner of war for six years in Vietnam.
Any time McCain feels threatened, he makes a well-publicized trip back to Vietnam to search for missing prisoners of war. Friends say McCain undergoes a knee-jerk reaction each time he hears about Claire Sargent's growing strength in the current senatorial campaign. McCain grabs a telephone, calls his campaign manager and orders that more time be purchased on all TV stations around the state to run the commercial about his being a prisoner. Ever since his involvement with Charlie Keating came to light, McCain has become a virtual commuter to the Far East. There are no constituents out there. But the mere fact of his flying across the ocean wins votes in Arizona.
His success stems from the fact that too many Arizonans are impressed by surface patriotism.
Also, Fitzpatrick’s colleague Amy Silverman points out many of the McCain’s instances of backstabbing; his rejection by Barry Goldwater on ethical grounds; and numerous self-serving acts masquerading as generosity, in her recent piece "Postmodern John McCain: the presidential candidate some Arizonans know — and loathe"
Definitely worth checking out.