McCain continu[es] to hold to a course really from another era, where party leaders could pick and choose where they stand with their party or not.
He's working with Democrats on a patients' bill of rights; he's working with Democrats on campaign finance reform; he's working with Democrats on immigration. He co-sponsors with [Sen.] Joe Lieberman [I-Conn.] a cap-and-trade bill on global warming that almost all Republicans oppose. He votes against the Bush tax cuts.
Now, his overall record is still very conservative, still a very high level of party loyalty, but he is conspicuous against this backdrop of increased partisan unity, of continuing to have and husband and nourish this maverick image as someone who will break from the party.
John McCain was maybe the most madcap of all midshipmen. He didn't do anything [for which] he could be charged with an honor offense, which was lying, cheating, or stealing, but he did all the secondary offenses, like "going over the wall," which is Naval Academy slang for ... just going out at night when you're supposed to be in your room either studying or sleeping. ...
... What's the relevance of that to understand the man we now see?
The Naval Academy system is quite rigid. Having gone through it myself, I can tell you that you don't easily challenge it. You generally go along with it. You make your peace with the portions of it that may drive you crazy. But if you challenge it, you're kind of a special breed. You're somebody who is not easily intimidated. ...<