John McCain embraces and expels Washington like an accordion player belting out a song, writes Glen Johnson. Squeeze in and he touts his vast knowledge of the capital city. Draw out and he casts himself a reformer bent on changing its ways. It's a remarkable dichotomy echoed throughout the Republican establishment, as a party that's held the White House for the past eight years tries to retain its grip in what has shaped up as a change election.
"There's two mavericks coming to Washington, and we're going to shake it up," McCain says, as though he's never set foot in the city himself. Squeeze in and he touts his time atop the Senate Committee on Commerce; draw out and he laments the "casual oversight" of Wall Street. Sometimes he even sounds both notes at once. " I know how to fix the corruption," he said recently. "I've been fighting it the whole time I've been in Congress."