Thursday, September 4, 2008

Initial McCain Speech Thoughts

What an uncharacteristically unfocused convention by the Republicans. Now for the record I think conventions are overrated and mean very little in the grand scheme of things. As long as you aren't so negative you should be able to recover from most anything. But after a convention you should come out with a clear message. The Republican party's message was clear, they really like drilling, and the only real excitement they have for their ticket right now, if for their VP nominee.

Let me start out by saying I feel bad for John McCain. For many years until his transformation from Maverick to typical politician the past 2 year I have respected his politics. I didn't agree with them, but as a Democrat I didn't need the video last night to respect what his service meant to the country. I've always and still do respect it. That service however has never really been a factor by the faithful of his own party for the past 8 years who always wished he fell in line with them. It was Karl Rove who spread rumors about him having a 'black baby' in South Carolina in 2000.

Now McCain has fallen in line with them and they still haven't embraced him.

Yes their were people choked up during the harrowing and powerful tale of his awful imprisonment as a POW, but their was tepid enthusiasm for the vast majority of the rest of his speech.

John McCain, a man who has wanted to be the Republican nominee for President since 1996 when he deferred to friend Phil Gramm should have had the joy of a great culmination this week and he didn't get it. By choosing Sarah Palin to appease the radical religious right wing of his party he made the McCain convention into the Palin convention.

In the end the pick may get him closer to the White House, but if he gets there he better watch his back, because the people that are going to come after him are his own party who apparently really want Sarah Palin, someone they hardly know to be the face of their party.

As for McCains speech, I have written here before and many have said, big speeches are not McCain's strong suit. His personal story was too buried at the end of a speech that my guess had many people turning the channel in the middle of it.

His two biggest non-Palin applause lines.

Drilling: Followed by the delegates shouting their favorite phrase of the convention.

"Drill, baby, drill."

They shouted this during Rudy's speech, Palin's speech, and McCain's as well. Let's just say I think that independent voters are more impressed and in line with "Yes we can!", than 'drill baby drill.'

The other line the audience seemed to explode for was when he said "help bad teachers find another line of work."

Now I'm not for bad teachers either. But you have to respect people that go into teaching and the Republican party is now going to fire bad teachers? Exactly how are they going to do this? Is the 'bureaucratic federal government' going to go into your child's classrooms and determine who the bad teachers are. Or are low standardized test scores going to determine a good or bad teacher?

As was the case with the whole week, the Republicans did and said nothing to lay out a plan or vision. McCain wasn't super negative, but as opposed to the tried and true strategies of Rove and Bush, their wasn't a coherent, simple plan that their troops could take to the streets.

They are running a campaign of as Peggy Noonan said yesterday, about narratives. Rove knew this is never enough. Even those that think the how much you want to 'have a beer' with the candidate determines elections, the candidates have to relate to people on things that effect them.

While 'No Child Left Behind' is a failed plan in my opinion, it was an incredible talking point as patronizing as it was.

If the McCain camp thinks 'Country First' will hold the same weight I just think they are four years too late for that message.

The Palin speech was a nasty attack job, but the enthusiasm in the room was palpable. McCain tried to be a bit of a healer, a bit of an attack dog, and a bit of a Maverick last night. The problem with trying to be too many things is that you don't really come off as any of them.

I appreciated his respectful comments about Obama and his supporters, but then he undercut it in typical kinda snide, kinda arrogant McCain.

His attacks on Obama didn't really carry the weight or convincing power behind them that even Joe Lieberman showed earlier in the week. This had been the critique of Obama before he hit his grand slam in his speech last Thursday.

Finally, he did attempt and rhetorically tried to divorce himself from the past eight years of corruption and mismanagement by the Bush administration, but 'Maverick' McCain used to have real passion behind it. This speech was done in more code and lacked real fire.

The speech overall lacked fire and it's because McCain is a candidate in an identity crisis.

He has won his nomination, but lost his convention to his VP pick.

He wants to speak to voters he has had for years, independents, but has had to walk the line to appease those in his party that have never trusted him.

It should have been the week of McCain, a celebration of his Independence and heroism, and instead it was a week about an unknown politician from Alaska, a cloud of a failed leadership by an unmentioned, bumped out of prime time President, and the result is a week not about John McCain.


There were more than a few smartass comments made by Republicans criticizing the stage that was set up in Denver for the historic and powerful Barack Obama speech last week. They criticized the 'foam Greek Columns' mercilessly.

Yet the Republicans had their own odd and cheap stage trick.

Did anyone else notice the screen on stage after the speech that started showing fireworks?

I mean a foam Greek Column or watching TV to watch fireworks on a,,,,,, giant TV?


Patrick said...

For all my raving against Palin I rather liked McCain's speech. hell, I really like McCain in general, I think he is an excellent man.

For a short while there we had 2000 McCain back, the guy who should have been president and maybe would have if his own party hadn't treated him so horribly. It was nice to see him again.

Unfortunately, he has surrounded himself with people that 2000 McCain wouldn't have gotten anywhere near, so I suspect that 2000 McCain was just a fleeting thing.

Patrick said...

Oh, and I thought the protesters in the arena were douchey.

Not to mention you almost always make whoever you are yelling at look better when you pull that.