An essential element of honor has always been loyalty, and loyalty has never been Senator McCain’s strongest suit. Rather, he has always been proud of being a "maverick" – a man who likes to be thought of as one whose friends and comrades are less important to him than his own exquisite conscience. To be sure, we also honor those whose independence of mind makes them less than reliable party men – if we didn’t, there would be no reason for the senator to make such a point of demonstrating such independence – but it is the honor of the senator rather than his country which is thus enhanced.
Moreover, the media and popular culture routinely exaggerate the extent to which the "whistle-blower" mentality may be expected to trump the honorable one in public life. As a result, Senator McCain has made quite a habit of appealing to higher considerations than mere party, and on every such occasion he has thereby characterized his fellow Republicans as, to say the least, less morally sensitive and clued-in than his good self. Such moral preening and posturing has doubtless played a big part in making him so popular among Democrats and Independents and therefore in making him the front-runner for the nomination at the time of writing. It’s his form of "triangulation," just as "compassionate conservatism" was President Bush’s in 2000.[JamesBowman.net, January 22, 2008]