McCain in the DOD slot ultimately does not make sense. McCain is still fighting the Vietnam War and does not have the mental tools to do what is needed. Strategy requires the U.S. to roll out of Iraq as quickly and cleanly as possible. McCain is too wedded to the idea of "Victory." He can not give a definition of the term or a coherent policy to reach his stated goal. His was a W like intention to stay the course in Iraq, that is to never ever leave. McCain never quite understood that occupying Iraq was not the same thing as staying Japan after WW II. He was also far too wedded to using war as a first option and not the last. While this may be an acceptable position for a SecDef, it does not dovetail well with Obama's more nuance position on National Security.
McCain at DOD is a recipe for disaster for the Senator from Arizona. His explosive personality and bellicosity would practically ensure him leaving within 24 months. He would be constantly trying to outshine his grandfather and father in the role. He would constantly overreach. His belief that he is the only honorable man in the room would quickly alienate his colleges and the administration. McCain would self-destruct as SecDef. Neither the nation nor BHO wants to watch that particular drama. If BHO wants him out of the way he can appoint him to the magistrate at Pago-Pago or some such. There are plenty of rest homes in the government for McCain to quietly fade away in.
Where McCain helps is in cutting out the Military deadwood. McCain may be handed the baton on that front. There are numerous DOD procurement programs that need to be terminated. There are weapons systems that are white elephants on steroids. One ship-building program is on average 91 months behind on delivery. McCain provides Obama cover for cutting the DOD down to size. McCain as a special czar for cutting waste, fraud, and abuse makes sense. If someone like McCain comes out and says " The Osprey program is dead, we are moving to something that works and cost less" the Marine Corps will most likely have to snap to attention and kill the program. Ditto for the other non-functioning bloat in the DOD budget.
McCain has shown much enthusiasm and some success in trimming away military pork. He also has a perch in the Senate to accomplish this mission. With McCain supporting defense cuts Republicans will have a much tougher time claiming that Obama is just a typical weak on security Democrat.
Of course Republicans will hate him even more for that. McCain though would be more than happy with that situation. For the last eight years he has had to kow-tow to parts of the right wing. McCain no longer needs the Bushies. He is, after eight long years, his own man. McCain is once again liberated; just like he was over thirty years ago when he left Vietnam.
Maverick McCain 3.0 is now in beta; look for full release sometime after January 20,2009. Look for MM 3.0 to do some major shredding of the Republican caucus; which is why BHO will let him stay in the Senate. McCain in an Obama administration is no real benefit; BHO already has a highly regarded Republican at DOD. McCain tear-assing around the Republican Caucus; that is a thing of beauty to a BHO administration. BHO gets to glide over the bruised, battered and broken bodies of the Elephants and does not even have to lift a finger. McCain is already primed and ready to go all BHO has to do is give McCain the coordinates.
McCain's Republican opponents will be in quite a pickle; after building him up as an All American hero and defender of God, Guts and Guns they can't turn around and call him a pinko. Well they can try but it will make them look shabby and ridiculous. Even if they return to mumbling about how his POW experience may have unglued him ( yes it was done before and by Republicans) that will still call into question why they let McCain be their standard bearer.
Look for McCain to get the DOD procurement brief from BHO. McCain gets to have major input into BHO's policy in this regard and BHO gets cover fire from McCain when he brings the recommendations to the fore. Look for lots of pressers that features a happy Obama and a happy McCain reaching across the aisle whilst Republican (and some Democratic) Senators in the shot smile but secretly seethe. Look for the nation to come out the big winner as pointless and wasteful defense department procurement programs finally get axed.