John McCain is a coward, a liar and a ``wise-ass.'' He's made enough mistakes to fill a book. A slow learner, he's largely beyond the age of self-improvement. He is, in short, one flawed human being.
And that's McCain describing himself.
``I don't know why he's that way,'' Roberta McCain, the Arizona senator's 96-year-old mother, says of the sometimes improbably high standards he sets for himself. ``At some point, you just have to accept realities.''
McCain, who will be formally nominated this week by the Republican Party to run for president, can be as tough on others as he is on himself. That presages what could be a turbulent and confrontational tenure in the White House.
``John describes himself as a maverick, and there are positive qualities to it,'' says Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, a close ally of Democratic nominee Barack Obama who considers McCain a friend. ``But it also leads to a certain unpredictability.