It's a good and interesting piece, though it plays into the well-worn conceit that the real McCain is the rough-hewn, straight-talking maverick, and not some kind of front-running fancy-lad. Consider the opening set-piece, which begins at a chi-chi DC fundraiser at the Corcoran Gallery of Art back when McCain was riding high in December 2006:
Coat-check girls welcomed the 800 guests at the entrance to the dramatically dimmed beaux arts venue; inside, waiters ladled out dainties and proffered trays of carefully chosen wines. The dapper, white-haired senator from Arizona himself held court at the west end of the hall [...]
Of course, that maverick ethos was nowhere in evidence that night, a fact of which Salter was well aware. "It's difficult," he'd said earlier, ruminating on the unlikely notion of John McCain as the establishment's candidate.
Why, you'd almost think that McCain was a total stranger to having dainties ladled in his presence. In fact, he enjoyed his first Beltway salons more than six decades ago. As I write in the book:
The myth that John McCain is a "man of the people," a natural-born genius at retail politics, is so all-pervasive that one feels like an atheist at Jesus Camp suggesting otherwise. [...]
From the beginning of his political career, McCain has never won an election without out-spending his opponent, usually by massive amounts. He has engaged in intensive door-to-door politicking just twice (Phoenix in 1982, New Hampshire in 1999-2000). And he has lived the bulk of his life inside the very Beltway he's so fond of campaigning against. With the notable exception of the soldiers he's served with and the staffers he's employed, McCain has favored the company of corporate bigwigs, powerful politicians and nationally known journalists since before he ever ran for office.
Ask Arizonans whether their senior senator is a "man of the people" and those who have an opinion will laugh. "He's just above it all; he doesn't have time to mess with peons," said Lyle Tuttle, chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Committee. [...]
John McCain knew before puberty that he came from a special family, and he was groomed from age 10 for elite leadership. His grandfather was in those famous surrender pictures from the deck of the USS Missouri at the end of World War II, and when he died days later it made the front page of the New York Times. His father, a well-regarded submarine commander during the war, became the Navy's first chief of information and then the branch's liaison officer to Congress. "My parents kept a house on Capitol Hill," McCain wrote in Faith of My Fathers, "where they entertained leading political and military figures. My mother's charm proved as effective with politicians as it was with naval officers. The political relationships my parents forged during this period contributed significantly to my father's future success."
There's more interesting stuff in the Draper article that you can read about over at my McCain blog.
Two Items of Note Today: 1) My book about John McCain is now officially published. 2) To commemorate the occasion, I have launched a new McCain blog. It's a little on the bare-bones side now, but starting as soon as tomorrow there'll be plenty of daily updates of how the candidate's daily activities can ALL BE EXPLAINED by my book's handy guide to his personality and ideology.