Matthew Yglesias makes an astute observation:
In some ways, I think McCain himself doesn’t quite realize how Bush-esque he is. He clearly doesn’t like Bush, and has been disliking him for a long time. But that kind of personalized, overblown disdain for Bush-the-man can wind up leading you to overestimate Bush-the-grand-strategist. To McCain, Bush’s policies have failed because of Bush. Replace Bush with McCain and shift tactics around the margins, and the same basic ideas should work out fine. It’s a nice theory, but I don’t think it’s a true theory.
McCain has a tendency to say things on the campaign trail that simply aren’t true, such as his claim Tuesday night that he “strongly disagreed with the Bush administration’s mismanagement of the war in Iraq…” a claim clearly contradicted by many prior public statements.
It could be, as Yglesias suggests, that McCain has conflated his personal dislike for Bush with his personal evaluation of the administration’s strategies and tactics—McCain may actually believe he opposed Bush, despite his near-lockstep support for the President’s policies. Or perhaps he simply doesn’t remember critical facts about key policies and issues. Or maybe he’s just lying.
Whatever. McCain himself may believe he is a “maverick,” but over the past few years both his Senate voting record and his record of public statements say otherwise. These are contradictions of which voters will be made well aware over the coming months.