In some ways, this unseemly nastiness is the result of the unchivalrous times we live in. But this backlash is, in many ways, a reflection of a career McCain spent doing bold things. Sometimes those things were incredibly stupid (like pausing his 2008 campaign to deal with the market collapse) or unethical (the Keating Five scandal) or dangerous (his penchant for saber rattling). Sometimes they were heroic (refusing to leave the Hanoi Hilton ahead of his comrades—and then standing up against torture) or heroic for the media’s portrayal purposes, but annoying for conservatives (calling out the Bush tax cuts, voting no on the Obamacare repeal, etc.).
Some of these things were good and some of these things were bad—but you can’t say they weren’t significant.
In that vein, of course it makes sense that one bold choice he didn’t make—picking Joe Lieberman as his running mate—haunts him to this day. And of course it makes sense that a number of people he agitated over the years (from those aforementioned conservatives to Greenwald) are also piling on now. One imagines this is merely the opening salvo in a fight to define his legacy.