David D. Kirkpatrick of The New York Times profiled McCain’s introduction to the Senate – an introduction which seems to directly affect his politics and his policies today:
After five and a half years of listening to senators’ antiwar speeches over prison camp loudspeakers, Mr. McCain came home in 1973 contemptuous of America’s elected officials, convinced Congress had betrayed the country’s fighting men by hamstringing the war effort. But in the halls of the Senate, he discovered a new calling, at once high-minded and glamorous…
Under Mr. Tower’s1 tutelage, Mr. McCain turned his anger over the management of the Vietnam War into an all-or-nothing view of international conflict that became one of the few guiding principles in his otherwise unpredictable political career — from his opposition to sending Marine peacekeepers into Lebanon in 1983 to his current staunch support for the Iraq war. And when prominent conservative Christians later protested Mr. Tower’s nomination as defense secretary over accusations of drinking and womanizing, Mr. McCain’s furious counterattack opened the hostilities with that wing of his party that have persisted ever since.
And here we have the main elements of McCain’s politics today: an all-or-nothing policy of international conflicts; a contempt for anyone who would undermine one of these all-or-nothing bets; a taste for glamor; 2 and a noble sense of his self and his work.