McCain Accepts The Nomination Posted by: MichaelW
on Thursday, September 04, 2008
Much like The Who not wanting to follow the pyrotechnics of Jimi Hendix, McCain must have felt a bit tentative after Palin's performance last night. So did he deliver?
Meh. It was fine, but not great. If Palin hit a homerun, then McCain had a solid, stand-up double. There was potential to take third if he had rounded the base properly, but he never quite got there. Overall, not bad, but not great.
Finally, a word to Senator Obama and his supporters. We'll go at it over the next two months. That's the nature of these contests, and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other. We're dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. No country ever had a greater cause than that. And I wouldn't be an American worthy of the name if I didn't honor Senator Obama and his supporters for their achievement.
It's obligatory for politicians to acknowledge their opponents as worthy adversaries and good people, usually followed by ripping them to rhetorical shreds. McCain never went there, although he did take some minor jabs at Obama:
I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them. I will open new markets to our goods and services. My opponent will close them. I will cut government spending. He will increase it.
My tax cuts will create jobs. His tax increases will eliminate them. My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance. His plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.
Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucracies. I want schools to answer to parents and students. And when I'm President, they will.
Senator Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that. We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and to restore the health of our planet. It's an ambitious plan, but Americans are ambitious by nature, and we have faced greater challenges. It's time for us to show the world again how Americans lead.
That was it in an hour-long speech. Again, pretty classy.
McCain stayed pretty positive by touting the plans for his administration, specifically promising to reach out across the aisle to Democrats and Independents, and at one point ruminating on how worrying about who gets the credit for the accomplishment is not nearly as important as achieving the accomplishment in the first place.
He's right, and that is a refreshing bit of pablum for independents and wavering Democrats, but the crowd was full of hungry Christians waiting for their serving of red lion meat, preferably something of Kenyan origin. They didn't get it, and were noticeably subdued during the talk of how Republicans lost the trust of the American people:
I've fought corruption, and it didn't matter if the culprits were Democrats or Republicans. They violated their public trust, and had to be held accountable. I've fought big spenders in both parties, who waste your money on things you neither need nor want, while you struggle to buy groceries, fill your gas tank and make your mortgage payment. I've fought to get million dollar checks out of our elections. I've fought lobbyists who stole from Indian tribes. I fought crooked deals in the Pentagon. I fought tobacco companies and trial lawyers, drug companies and union bosses.
I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.
We're going to change that. We're going to recover the people's trust by standing up again for the values Americans admire. The party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan is going to get back to basics.
Once again, McCain's right, but these are not the sorts of things that fire up the base. He basically reminded Republicans why he had difficulty getting them excited in the first place.
But then he launched into his personal POW story. This was easily the most powerful and moving portion of McCain's speech, and he told it in a way that I hadn't ever heard or thought of before. He explained how his years of captivity made him fall in love with America, and caused him to want to serve his country:
I've been an imperfect servant of my country for many years. But I have been her servant first, last and always. And I've never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I didn't thank God for the privilege.
Long ago, something unusual happened to me that taught me the most valuable lesson of my life. I was blessed by misfortune. I mean that sincerely. I was blessed because I served in the company of heroes, and I witnessed a thousand acts of courage, compassion and love.
On an October morning, in the Gulf of Tonkin, I prepared for my 23rd mission over North Vietnam. I hadn't any worry I wouldn't come back safe and sound. I thought I was tougher than anyone. I was pretty independent then, too. I liked to bend a few rules, and pick a few fights for the fun of it. But I did it for my own pleasure; my own pride. I didn't think there was a cause more important than me.
A lot of prisoners had it worse than I did. I'd been mistreated before, but not as badly as others. I always liked to strut a little after I'd been roughed up to show the other guys I was tough enough to take it. But after I turned down their offer, they worked me over harder than they ever had before. For a long time. And they broke me.
When they brought me back to my cell, I was hurt and ashamed, and I didn't know how I could face my fellow prisoners. The good man in the cell next door, my friend, Bob Craner, saved me. Through taps on a wall he told me I had fought as hard as I could. No man can always stand alone. And then he told me to get back up and fight again for our country and for the men I had the honor to serve with. Because every day they fought for me.
I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my country's.
I'm not running for president because I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need. My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God.
After those inspiring words, McCain launched into the his litany of things to fight for, to a crescendo of applause. But I thought the image of this man who had suffered so much for the sake of his country and his fellow soldiers, offering himself for service to the country he loves was an absolutely brilliant message. Far from saying "vote for me, I'm a war hero," McCain explained how the idea of America helped save him in his darkest hour, and how he wants to return the favor.
In the end, however, I'm not sure that his speech was good enough to have much effect. He surely didn't connect with the party's base, although he may have reached some independent leaners. My guess is that may be good enough for a two or three point bounce at most. What potentially makes it a 7 - 10 point bounce is the Barracuda, who not only excites the base (especially those who might have sat this election out), but also draws in undecided voters.
One last point: McCain only mentioned his experience once (that I recall), but after so many days of "who's more experienced, Palin or Obama" the contrast between the standard-bearers could not be more stark. If nothing else, the Obama campaign will have to substantially back off the experience jabs, just because it will hurt them so badly.
I thought this election would be close, but that Obama would emerge victorious. Palin changed that calculus, but McCain didn't put it away. At this point, it looks like a toss up, IMHO.
Here is what worries me about this being a very close election: It shouldn’t be that close!!!!!!!!! We have a clear choice between the platforms of the two candidates. One is for more government, more control, less freedom. The other is for, in relative terms, less government, less spending, more freedom. The fact that it is forecast to be close is scary. That such a large percentage of the U.S. population would vote for less freedom does not bode well for our future.
My concern going in to last night was how McCain could follow Palin’s home run. And you’re right, I think he did hit a stand up double. And I think, for all intents and purposes, that’s about as good as anyone could hope for.
He could very easily have fallen on his face. He did not. He was clear, articulate, and gracious. Oh, and he was classy. He’s gone out of his way to show respect for Obama a number of times. Not sure he’s getting the credit for it, but at least he’s shown you can be at odds with someone and still know what team you play for.
All in all I give him a B for the speech, and an A+ for the convention.
Here is what worries me about this being a very close election: It shouldn’t be that close!!!!!!!!! We have a clear choice between the platforms of the two candidates. One is for more government, more control, less freedom.
Well, don’t forget more free sh!t for doing nothing. Healthcare? I’ll make the other guys pay. Education? It’s your right. Freebies. Freebies. That appeals to a large (and growing) portion of the population. What the he11 does it matter if he raises taxes when half the population pays less than 3% anyway. They have no stake. Of course, the end of that path isn’t pretty.
You’re right "Is". I should remember that since almost 50% of the population does not pay federal tax they would be only too glad to vote for "free stuff". They don’t care what you do to the producers in this country as long as they get their bread and circuses.
McCain/Palin must be doing well, you can tell by the dog that isn’t barking, right Erb?
At any rate, McCain threw ANOTHER game changer last night. Because the field of battle is now on Obama’s grounds - hope and change.
McCain is banking that by this time, Obama’s brand of hopeychangey has been exposed for the business as usual that it is, and he’s hoping that the enough independents and Reagan-Dems believe that "Team Maverick" really does represent change.
The guy knows how to politically street fight, that’s for sure.