When Capt. John McCain turned down a chance to be admiral in 1981, deciding to run for Congress instead, he’d spent four years as the Navy’s Senate liaison, developing an appetite for what one observer called “the glamor of … political combat.” The New York Times profiles a key phase of the Republican nominee-in-waiting’s seduction by "the celebrity of power."
McCain’s role models—in particular Texas Sen. John Tower—saw themselves in ideological struggle with a wimpy Carter administration, and the former prisoner of war (and son and grandson of admirals) enlisted in that fight, even bucking Navy protocol along the way. But more than anything, he fell for the globe-trotting, power-wielding lifestyle. Said one watcher, “John heard the music up there.”