Mark Kleiman asks whether John McCain is really a once honorable man who has fallen into the disgrace that is now his campaign for the Presidency as the horribly disillusioned McCain sycophant Richard Cohen wrote, or if McCain is really just a highly ambitious opportunist who has concealed the wild swings in his positions in "in paeans to service and honor" as Brian Beutler recently wrote.
I have long taken Beutler's position. John McCain has always been an ambitious opportunist willing to ride his family's power as American naval royalty as far as it could carry him. Then he got shot down over North Vietnam and through very little real choice of his own endured severe privations and torture - as did the other POW's. Then, once he returned to America he married a very wealthy heiress and used her money to buy a seat in first Congress and then the Senate. He has since existed by "waving the bloody shirt" and manufacturing a media image as a "Maverick" to hide his in ability to get what he wanted by cooperating with others in the Senate for three decades.
McCain's choice of the unqualified Sarah Palin as his running mate was a decision made in desperation when he knew he could not win the Presidency otherwise. He has placed his own personal ambition above the good of the nation. He has been exposed as the unmasked opportunist.