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    September 05, 2008

    McCain bests Palin from the podium

    Posted by: Chris

    Mccaincountryfirst I was more impressed than Andoni with John McCain's speech last night, although I agree that much of his rhetoric rings hollow considering how dismissive he's been toward gay civil rights.

    ("Education is the civil rights issue of this century"? School choice? Really? I favor it myself and loathe labor unions in general, but is he so blind toward the real civil rights movements out there -- targeting actual discrimination in the private sector and by our government itself?)

    Of course McCain's delivery was mediocre; speechifying is definitely not his strong suit, though he certainly stepped it up for prime time, as is the norm for nominees giving the big acceptance address.

    Unlike the partisan, dismissive tone set by Sarah Palin and, well, pretty much every other speaker I've heard this week, McCain was far less divisive. That's also to be expected, since the Palin pick has sealed the deal with his base and now he's reaching out for the independents and undecideds. It almost felt like the old John McCain, minus the courageous, stern warning of those days to the "agents of intolerance" within his own party.

    He even tried to set a more respectful tone toward the Dems…

    A word to Senator Obama and his supporters. We'll go at it -- we'll go at it over the next two months -- you know that's the nature of this business -- and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and my admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, and that's an association that means more to me than any other.

    But if that was truly the message he wanted to send, he failed pretty miserably. For one thing, he just couldn't help re-using a line that struck me the first time I heard it as among the meanest personal attacks in recent times from one presidential nominee to another…

    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.

    What a turn off, and what dissonance from his earlier profession of respect and admiration for Obama and his supporters.

    And if McCain really wanted to set a respectful tone for the campaign, he would have been much better off if the other speakers this week -- including his own running mate -- hadn't been so dismissive. He'd have been even better off if he'd followed Obama's lead and given his acceptance speech in a larger venue, with the general public present to drown out the rah-rah delegates.

    Their enthusiasm isn't the problem, of course. That's obviously to be expected. But I can't be the only one really and truly bothered by the way the delegates incessantly chant "USA! USA!" -- not because I love my country any less. I've yelled it myself when cheering on our athletes at the Olympics or last year here in Rio at the Pan Am Games. But in a partisan setting, and especially in response to partisan rhetoric, the message is clear: We're the true Americans; the other party isn't.

    Consider the McCain-Palin campaign's new motto: "Country First" That obviously echoes the ugly message the delegates are sending, and we've already seen in comments on this blog and elsewhere how his followers wield it like a patriotic sledgehammer. Why would "Country First" be the primary reason to elect McCain-Palin unless Obama-Biden were putting someone else -- presumably themselves -- ahead of country?

    Like Palin's, the speech last night was also light on specifics -- particularly ironic considering the grief Obama has gotten on that score. Maybe McCain doesn't have more to offer on the domestic front except lower taxes, school choice, tighter spending and drilling, drilling, drilling.

    The speech also ended on a low note for me, as McCain awkwardly semi-yelled "Fight with me! Fight with me!" over the roars of the crowd. I don't know if he recruited many new McCainiacs to "fight with him" with theatrics like that, but on the whole the speech was at least less of a turnoff than Palin's.

    (If you haven't already, check out the New York Times interactive feature that ties video of the speech to the transcript. It's a great way to see what was said.)



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    1. Allan on Sep 5, 2008 6:20:18 PM:

      Charlie, interesting title. Besting Palin is hardly the question that faces America. Besting Obama is.

      On that score, Obama one, McCain "zero" (the lynchmob Republicans' new favorite chant).

    1. Allan on Sep 5, 2008 6:22:29 PM:

      Sorry Charlie, I meant Chris. You know how brains begin to fail as we age... and I'm "only" 51. I can't imagine how senile I'll be in 21 years.

    1. Charlie on Sep 5, 2008 6:59:05 PM:

      LOL. Hey, I'd happily take credit for most things Chris writes. :)

    1. Father Faggot on Sep 5, 2008 7:05:13 PM:

      As McCain finished his speech with the hysterical "Fight with me" finale; it frightened me. It reminded me of speeches I heard many years ago in Nuremberg.

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