The two Republican politicians who lost the last U.S. election to Obama have had very different luck. The vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, seems to be on an unstoppable rise, pushed by the furious conservatives of the Tea Party. Her supporters cheer her as the next candidate for the White House. The 2008 Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, on the other hand, has been slipping, and most critics accuse him of losing his integrity.

A few days ago, McCain told Newsweek magazine, "I never considered myself a maverick." It was a signal confirming the strange internal mutation that has occurred in the 73-year-old veteran Republican senator who has spent his entire career defending his radical independence as his defining characteristic. That attitude made him a rebel, almost a dissident in the Republican ranks. The old war hero, honest and incorruptible, did not hesitate to deviate from the party slogans if they conflicted with his principles and ideas. He criticized George Bush for the Iraq war, and in his books and electoral campaign he represented the role of a rebel (with facts to back him up).

But now it seems that McCain is not rebelling anymore. What happened? The latest film by Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island, based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, tells the story of an impeccable federal agent who travels to a remote island to deal with a dangerous psychopath in a turbulent psychiatric-penitentiary institution. Diabolical machinations, crazy experiments, perverse complicity: The film narrates a brutal transformation. The agent becomes (or was he always?) a dangerous murderer.

Of course the story of McCain doesn't have that gothic and excessive air, but it has similarities. A change of identity, and in attitude: to facilitate the expulsion of immigrants. In this case, however, the metamorphosis can be explained. McCain has had to ask for help from Palin when he saw that his re-election as a senator from Arizona could be in jeopardy. To hell with the rebellion.