Brooks argues that McCain's "maverick" qualities come from a "tendency to substitute a moral philosophy for a political one." Basically, McCain's a crusader. He likes "to rally the armies of decency against the armies of corruption," but he lacks an overarching governing philosophy, which is why he's always jumping ship and failing to support Republican philosophical credos, like the need for small government.
Brooks thinks McCain's years of experience have taught him to deal with complex issues that aren't black and white battles between decency and corruption (although, interestingly, Brooks classifies Putin as one issue that can in fact be dealt with as such a black and white battle, which, imho, is exactly the attitude that got us into this mess with Georgia). But he still thinks McCain needs someone with a well-developed governing philosophy to rein in his free-wheeling moral intuitions. Palin certainly isn't the person for that job, and Brooks doesn't like the thought of two unmoored moral souls guiding this country through troubled waters.
This is an interesting way to think of McCain, and I'm not sure I agree with it. Any thoughts?