Some people when stressed turn to yoga to find the peace of mind that will be the hand maiden that gets them through the bedeviling snarls that bind them. Others choose a more earthbound route and find solace in Wild Turkey or other grains and spirits. I choose a road less traveled and seek for answers in the Oxford American Dictionary (paperbound edition).
Most recently I found the Tao I needed on page 549 of that estimable publication. The goad that urged me there was the need to find some absolute for the word maverick. For weeks, nay months or longer, that word has clogged the airways, choked the pages of newspapers and besotted bloggers worldwide. John (Maverick) McCain. Would-be president McCain has been saddled with the designation of maverick so often that it pushed his former nickname of John (Houses R Us) McCain into the twilight zone of punditry. A place where far too many had gone before.
I had to know exactly what is meant by the word that is being employed as a springboard to the White House and thus to page 549 where it reads: N. 1) an unbranded calf or other young animal. 2) a person of unorthodox independence, one who dissents from the ideas and beliefs of an organized political or other group to which he belongs.
Which one then befits Senator McCain? Certainly not the first definition, for he is clearly branded. He is not young and not, in the strictest sense of the word, an animal. Ergo the second definition. Which brings us to Sarah Palin, perhaps not too smoothly but finally.
The Arizona Kid, it is reported, wanted another maverick, Sen. Joe Leiberman as his running mate but the party orthodoxy, probably concerned that two mavericks was one maverick too many nixed John’s pard Joe and discovered Gov. Sarah Palin. Okay by me, said John (I Am My Own Man) McCain and thus deep-sixed the second definition of maverick.
John (The Former Maverick) McCain has been chided for perhaps not delving deeply enough into the CV of Alaska’s governor, but he has not been given the credit due him for assiduously searching out other potential vice presidential candidates who might match the Belle of the Frozen North. Being aware that Ms. Palin, when only the mayor of a small Alaskan town but quite apparently with her eyes on a bigger prize, had attempted to have selected books banned in her local library and when the librarian resisted her blandishments. Mayor Palin had her fired. That left a tough mark for other potential candidates to match but John McCain, undaunted, sought other librarians. He soon discovered that he was drilling a dry well and abandoned the high road in his never-ending search for a matching maverick.
Fixing on yet another facet of Ms. Palin, he went in search of someone who could handle the double duties of veeping and shooting. And lo, one name and one name only rose to the surface when the vetting committee’s analysis of Dick Cheney read “Bad Veep, Good Shot.” It didn’t seem to be the right bait to ensnare young voters. So Sarah Palin won the day and yet another maverick bit the dust.
It would appear that if America is looking for a maverick to save the day, we should put out an S.O.S. for Brett or Bart.
Allan Manings, after 40 years of writing and producing for television and films, has retired to Edgartown and California. His column appears regularly in the Gazette.