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The Real Original Maverick

- August 6, 2008

John McCain is running this new ad touting himself as the “original maverick.”

This led Jason Zengerle and Christopher Orr over at TNR’s The Plank to debate whether Tom Cruise or James Garner is the real original maverick.

In fact, the original maverick was Maury Maverick, the grandson of Samuel Maverick, from whom the name maverick first entered the American lexicon. Maury was a radical politician from San Antonio who who served two terms in Congress (1935-1939). There, he led a bloc of progressive Democrats who sought to push Roosevelt and the New Deal to the left. The press quickly labeled this group “The Mavericks.” While hugely popular with the the many poor Hispanics in his district, Maverick was far too liberal for the conservative Texas Democratic establishment. In 1938 he lost the Democratic party after being slandered as a communist. Maverick then went on to serve as mayor of San Antonio before once again losing in the primary after being red-baited.

During World War II, he served in various defense agencies. It was at this time that he coined the term “gobbledygook,” saying that incomprehensible government bureaucratese sounded like turkey noise.

This site has a nice description of Maverick’s congressional career along with links to the online version of his 1937 autobiography, A Maverick American.