Am I wrong, or does it seem as if John McCain and Sarah Palin are calling themselves mavericks less often these last couple of days in a desperate attempt to distance themselves from the White House and Republican legacy?
This could have something to do with the fact that the New York Times has tracked down the real Mavericks–and they really aren’t pleased with their name being abused during the elections.
A similar case occurred in 1972. Then, bumper stickers appeared on the streets with the, for Europeans, slightly cryptic text “Will Rogers never met George McGovern.”
This is what happened:
Will Rogers was an extremely popular comedian from Oklahoma in the ’20s and ’30s, from whom many lines have become historic, but especially his words “I never met a man I didn’t like.”
As Rogers was a mild and socially sensitive man, who was a supporter of President Roosevelt, these bumper stickers were considered insulting to his memory and were especially insulting to the Democratic presidential candidate McGovern, who had to compete with Richard Nixon in vain. Rogers’ family protested, and the bumper sticker quietly disappeared from stores. Not that, that helped, by the way.
And now we have Mrs. Terrellita Maverick, 82 years old from San Antonio, Texas who finds it outrageous that McCain and Palin abuse their family name.
The original Maverick was called Samuel Augustus. He lived in Texas in the nineteenth century and acquired a name for himself when he refused to brand his livestock. He was more interested in the land he owned than in the cattle that grazed on it, and since then unbranded cows have been called Mavericks.
But the Maverick family has an outspoken progressive tradition. Sam Maverick’s grandson, Fontaine Maury, was a congressman and mayor of San Antonio, and such an outspoken ‘liberal’ that his opponents called him a communist. His son Maury Jr. was a civil rights lawyer who represented military service objectors, atheists and other non-conformists. He also wrote columns for the San Antonio Express-News, and in the last one he wrote before his death, in February 2003, he vigorously opposed the planned war in Iraq.
And Terrellita, his sister, is a valued member of the council of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “It is just incredible,” she declared in the New York Times, “where does McCain get the nerve to call himself a Maverick? He is part of that branded Republican herd. Every time we hear him say the M-word, all my family members cringe and say ‘Oh my God, there he goes again!”
How often will McCain use that M-word on Wednesday?