Howard Fineman’s take on this one seems about right:
Truth be told, John McCain really canÃ¢€™t stand George W. Bush, even if he agrees with him on a lot of things, especially Iraq. ItÃ¢€™s amusing (for us political reporters) to watch the senator from Arizona struggle with the role fate handed him: riding shotgun on the Bush reelection stagecoach. ItÃ¢€™s hard to know whether McCain, deep down, wants to protect his passenger or let the Indians have him. As for Bush, he doesnÃ¢€™t trust McCain, but needs him.
McCainÃ¢€™s rhetorical flirtation with the idea of becoming Sen. John KerryÃ¢€™s running mate is just the latest act in an ongoing intramural psychodrama that began in 1999, and no amount of common geostrategic purpose in the post-9/11 world can end it. He is a proud man, a fierce fighter, with an ego to match the pride and the ferocity. He wanted the Republican nomination in 2000, wanted it badly, and raged against what he saw as a system rigged against him.
As the season started, McCain surveyed the landscape and saw Bush as a pampered kid being set up in the family businessÃ¢€”presidential politicsÃ¢€”on the strength of his fatherÃ¢€™s connections and access to money. McCain railed, in private, about this. He tried to laugh about it, but there was seething anger beneath. McCain was from royalty, too, in his own wayÃ¢€”Navy royalty. He was the namesake of a famous father, too, and that smoothed his path to Annapolis, and helped keep him there. But he had paid his dues in the most profound way, with five years of his life in prison cells in Hanoi.
And now the question of the veepship. ItÃ¢€™s true that he and Kerry are close. They are perhaps the leading members of an informal caucus of Vietnam Veterans in the Senate, a fiercely loyal group that tends to eschew party lines whenever possible to express solidarity with one another. ItÃ¢€™s also true that, like any politician, McCain likes to make news, likes to be in the limelight, and likes to be asked if he has any interest in being a partner in a national ial ticket.
I donÃ¢€™t think McCain is serious. HeÃ¢€™ll stay where he is, but itÃ¢€™s not because he feels any affection for the guy heÃ¢€™s riding with.