Opinion: Ticket video chat: Matt Welch on ‘McCain: The Myth of a Maverick’ -- V


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This is Chapter V of VIII in our conversation with Matt Welch, the debonair author of a new book on Sen. John McCain that explores the man’s persona through his own writings and friends.

This is a particularly interesting segment because Welch describes the unexpected. But when you think about it, a logical aspect of McCain’s character is that he is always much more comfortable as an underdog, a counterpuncher who overcomes adversity and fights back from behind, even when seemingly doomed. McCain’s favorite literary character? Robert Jordan from ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls.’


There must be some explanation for how someone could endure six months, let alone nearly six years, as a tortured POW. In fact, McCain would recite that Ernest Hemingway novel to himself for strength.

Sound familiar? About this time last summer, we were all pretty much writing McCain’s campaign off as hopelessly broke, disorganized and lacking support.

And when McCain promised he would come back because he would ‘out-campaign’ all the others, Welch believed him. Because he had come to know him too well not to.

Now, the Arizona senator has, in effect, won the Republican Party’s nomination for president as the polls and political outlook today look rather bleak for the GOP this fall. Happily confident fans of Barack Obama and discouraged Republicans may want to listen closely to this segment, at least once, maybe twice.

Previous chapters of our conversation are available here for I, here for II, here for III and here for IV. Examples of Welch’s written work as a former Times reporter are here.

The remaining three segments will be published in the Ticket over the next couple of days. This fine video work, by the way, is by’s Jeff Amlotte.

-- Andrew Malcolm