Monday, September 15, 2008

The Original Maverick

In a new irritating advertisement, John McCain and Sarah Palin are described as "the original mavericks." Like so many of the other McCain ads. it's misleading. (An earlier ad proclaimed that Barack Obama was "ready to raise taxes," though McCain wants to tax employer-provided health insurance--a huge tax increase on the middle class.) But the innuendos about Obama and the half-truths about Palin's accomplishments are par for the course. But "original mavericks?" Whether the are mavericks in any sense of the word is problematic. But there's only one original maverick, and it's not John McCain or Sarah Palin.

The term maverick comes from Samuel Augustus Maverick (1803-1870), a Texas lawyer, politician and rancher. He fought in the Texas Revolution, first opposed, and then supported the secession of Texas from the Union, and was a major landowner. But his nickname came from his practice of not branding cattle. According to Wikipedia, "Maverick steadfastly refused to brand his cattle. As a result, the word maverick entered the English lexicon, meaning both an unbranded range animal as well as a slang term for someone who exhibits a streak of stubborn independence. Maverick's stated reason for not branding his cattle was that he didn't want to inflict pain on them. Other ranchers however, suspected that his true motivation was that it allowed him to collect any unbranded cattle and claim them as his own."

McCain isn't the original maverick, but his television ads--from the "Summer of Love" to the Britney Spears/Paris Hilton commercial to the current "Original Mavericks" ad demonstrate the kind of deception for personal gain that Samuel Maverick was accused of.


Lisa said...

I love when you do these posts to explain the origins of commonly used terms.

On the deceptive advertising, it is terribly sad but there are a whole lot of Americans who believe what the McCain ads say. In this information age, it's so easy to research or verify information and yet time and again I hear anecdotes that indicate there are legions who don't.

Charles Gramlich said...

It's because in fact they want to maintain the Status Quo that they have to try and present themselves as mavericks. It's 1984 speak.

Tea N. Crumpet said...

I have no issues with porn and I don't watch it, but I always thought that the Maverick label on McC sounded like some guy in chaps and spurs. I always chortle at my image when he appears on TV-- I keep thinking Pete Burns singing Brand New Lover and we get. . . this 72 year old man and a fairly attractive sidekick.

Anonymous said...

Mr. McCain is such a "maverick." Son of a military man, he went military. Survivor of an idiotic war, he went political (and would doubtless suppor that war today). Member of the Senate, he votes 90% or more for his idiotic leader's proposals.

Oh, and if trying to ban books makes you a "maverick," Palin's right there. There is word drifting around, by the way, that she's anti-Semitic. I'm so shocked.

virtualjourney said...

What an interesting titbit of information. Thanks Steve. Had a lot to do over the summer but am settling back to blogging and realizing how much I missed the random stimulus!

steve on the slow train said...

Lisa--Thank you. Richard Rovere, in his biography of Joe McCarthy, writes about the "Multiple Lie." Keep telling the same lie over and over, and people will believe it. The trouble with the Information Age is that you can find lots of sources that will "verify" the lies and half-truths as true.

Charles--Too true.

Tea-I suppose it has something to do with the old TV show, "Maverick." Somebody did a brilliantly funny essay on the Food Network as pornography--that pornogrphy tries to make acrobatic sex look easy, just as The Food Network makes gourmet cooking look easy. Nigella Lawson was the Urban Sophisticate while Rachael Ray was The Girl Next Door. Maybe politics as pornography is next.

Gerry-Yes. I haven't heard that Palin's anti-Semitic, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Julie--Good to hear from you again. Random stimulus is one thing that keeps me in the plogging world.