The Dean doesn't tell us who assumes this — nor does he say if their assumption is warranted. And this is odd, because let's be frank: John McCain basically lied through his teeth all through his last run for the White House.I'll give Broder credit for one thing: he's right about McCain's straight-talkiness being generally "assumed." And look — it's not as if the only way to fight this legend is by pretending that the polar opposite is true instead. McCain is hardly the most devious politician on the national stage. But there's plenty of evidence that his MO is to get outsized credit for a very small number of mavericky stands while spending about 98% of his political life doing all the usual things that career politicians do. He hangs with lobbyists, he does favors for big contributors, he waffles on positions that might hurt him, he panders to constituencies whose votes he needs, and he very rarely takes a politically risky stand on anything. In other words, he's just a normal pol with a really good PR shop.
He lied about the Confederate flag — later said that he had, for God's sake. He lied about Bush's tax proposal. He ran a phone bank against Bush in Michigan, then openly lied about that. He reinvented his stand on abortion every time he opened his mouth. He kept telling a nasty joke about Gore — a "joke" which was utterly bogus on the factual level.
Today, he lies about the things he said about Bush's tax plan back then. But a tired old man somehow hits the key which produces this praise for McCain.
And for all the talk about how ambitious Hillary is, does anyone really doubt that McCain has her well beaten on that score? He ran as a conservative bulldog in 2000, he moderated his positions and seriously considered switching parties to run as VP in 2004, and then switched back to Mr. Conservative afterward to prep for yet another run in 2008. McCain really, really, REALLY wants to be president. Isn't it about time someone noticed that?