She’s a Maverick, and she’s mad.
The New York Times reported Saturday that Terrellita Maverick is upset that Sen. John McCain and his campaign have appropriated the family name.
McCain “is in no way a maverick, in uppercase or lowercase,” Maverick told the Times.
“I’m just enraged that John McCain calls himself a maverick,” she continued. “It’s just incredible - the nerve! - to suggest that he’s not part of the Republican herd.”
Her strong words may have been prompted by the vice presidential debate Thursday between Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican McCain’s running mate, and Sen. Joe Biden, who appears on the Democratic ticket with presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.
During the debate, Palin referred to herself or McCain six times as mavericks.
“I’ve joined this team that is a team of mavericks with John McCain,” Palin said in her first use of the term.
Three paragraphs later, she referred to McCain as “the maverick from the Senate.” Later, McCain became the “consummate maverick.”
All these mavericks applied to McCain irritated Terrellita Maverick, 82, a lifelong Democrat who lives in San Antonio and is a board member emeritus of the San Antonio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. She is also the keeper of the Maverick flame, as her great grandfather, Samuel August Maverick, is responsible for the use of the word “maverick” to mean someone who is independent, unhampered by party label or custom.
It all began when Maverick, a Texas land baron in the 19th century, refused to brand his cattle.
He reportedly did this because he didn’t want to hurt them or, some say, because he might have been able to claim any unbranded cattle as his own.
Regardless, unbranded cattle became known as “mavericks” and the term came to apply metaphorically to unbranded people, as well.
Terrellita Maverick’s father, Fontaine Maury Maverick, also a Democrat, served in the U.S. Congress from 1935 to 1939. Among other contributions, he coined the word “gobbledygook.” He later was elected mayor of San Antonio for one term.
Her brother, who was known as Maury Jr., served three terms in the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat. A lawyer, he was a champion of civil rights and served as an attorney for the ACLU.
Later in his life, he moved from the law to journalism, writing a weekly column for the San Antonio Express-News.
At the time of his death, the opinionated and left-of-center Maverick drew high praise from syndicated columnist Molly Ivins.
“His breadth of knowledge was just gorgeous,” said Ivins, who died in January 2007. “What a great hero. What a great curmudgeon. What a perfect maverick.”
During the vice-presidential debate Biden made it clear that he, too, does not believe McCain is a perfect maverick.
In pointing this out, he used the word “maverick” nine times, easily outpacing Palin’s six.
Consequently, it may be Biden who brought more joy or sorrow to those playing the maverick drinking game at home during the debate, taking a swig of alcohol every time someone said “maverick.”
The transcript of the debate does show that the candidates repeated other words in addition to “maverick” to hammer home ideas.
Palin said “track record” 14 times, generally underscoring McCain’s experience.
Biden employed the term “middle class” 12 times in stressing economic issues and concerns.