He's a wildcard. Flies by the seat of his pants. Completely unpredictable. --Jester
I can only assume from the frequency with which the McCain-Palin team use the word maverick that it polls well. For what it's worth, they didn't ask me.
McCain seems every bit the fighter jock. He governs by the seat of his pants. His stances come from deep in his gut. The impression that I get is that McCain learns enough about an issue to reinforce or disprove what his hunch tells him. In fairness, we could do much worse than an honor-loving soul who goes with his gut when it comes to foreign policy. On domestic, economic issues I am not so sure. McCain doesn't seem to have a solid grasp of the economics at all. To clarify this is from lack of interest, not lack of intelligence.
In some sense, liberals and progressives will always be more interested in economics than conservatives. Conservatives are content to let the market determine how to allocate goods and services. Liberals want to tweak the allocation to ensure more equity, and therefore need to understand the mechanisms of the economy. At least McCain's gut reaction on economic issues defaults to leave the market alone, which is preferable to the default liberal reaction. Nothing is more frightening to me than liberals who know nothing about the economy and only go by their gut. Mostly because their lack of economic understanding leads to policies which undermine their goals rather than further them, but I digress.
The thing about mavericks is that they are invaluable to have on a team. For example, I want a slightly twisted classics professor to advise the president. He or she would be an intellectual maverick, so to speak. Maverick leaders can be problematic. On a military campaign, perhaps they can be successful, but I am not so sure maverick political leaders are. I guess my point here is that maverickness is not an unmitigated good to me.
I'm pretty sure McCain is going to lose this race. As each day passes I am less likely to vote for him, and I am certain that my vote will decide this race. I don't know if I can bring myself to vote for a liberal law professor. I'm not sure yet.
In the context of this race, McCain was the best choice for the Republican nomination, especially against Obama. Against Hillary anybody would have won. (Don't argue, Alan.) Nevertheless, he is still a very flawed candidate.