Friday, September 5, 2008

The Speech of His Life: McCain

What started as a rather run-of-the-mill speech, filled with platitudes and seemingly lacking in passion and conviction, became a roaring train, unstoppable, always building in power and momentum.

McCain accomplished the most important goal - that being to play to his strengths and establish himself as the go-to-guy for president, because he's ready.

He did this so well he barely even needed to contrast himself with Obama. Hardly a negative word was spoken of Obama. Contrasted to most other speeches we've heard by both sides throughout the years, this one was extremely gracious and positive. One of the many surprises of the speech.
The other pleasant surprises:
- the re-telling of his capture and experience as POW - parts of which I'd never heard. Very touching.
- actually showing and admitting to the bad side of being a 'maverick' - pride and smugness
- taking on Russia and Iran directly.

After the speech passed through the obligatory points of his competition, his family, his running mate, etc., it made great work of covering all of the most important topics - security, ideas to spur the economy, schools. McCain struck a perfect balance between specifics, ideals, and easily repeatable quips.

He made a perfect art form of poignantly telling his war story, and how that ties into his motivations to be president - love of country because of the sacrifice he'd seen by his fellow soldiers, and the recognition of serving a cause greater than oneself. Obama has to pretend that there are higher-minded ideals as the motivation for his seeking the office. What was his answer to the child who asked him why he was running? Something like, "Because America is not what it could be." But that's only half of an answer. Since it's him who is running, and not just anybody, it must be understood that he believes he's the one best suited to fix the problems, though he didn't say it. Obama has made a poor case regarding his motivation for running. McCain turned the story of his life into a heart-rending tale of heroism and love of country - not an easy thing to do in an age of cynicism.

I really can't stop musing about how positive and proscriptive was McCain's speech, and the lack of attacking his opponent. Obama has often leveled the charge that "they have no ideas, so all they can do is attack me." This speech certainly put that to rest, and after McCain's superior performance at the SaddleBack Church forum, I have every confidence McCain can articulate his ideas and plans better than Obama. McCain's positive and personal speech is in marked contrast to the Democratic kind of speech, whether it be Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. There's always an underpinning of "make them (be it the "rich" or oil companies or whomever) pay their fair share." Democrats always say that the federal government is not taking enough from somebody somewhere, and then they often end up implementing taxes that take away from everyone.

And it was very brave for McCain to own up to the Republican failures of the Republican-led congress under Bush. And fail they did in many ways. But McCain used this to his advantage - amazing job there. McCain has actually successfully co-opted Obama's message of change, and made it more palpable, achievable, and real.

Looking back now at Obama's speech vis-a-vis McCain's, Obama is clearly playing catch-up to McCain's statesmanship. Whereas Obama simply listed a few critical foreign policy issues, McCain spoke firmly and directly, showing he's not going to be weak. The perception here is that Obama speaks of what he hopes will be. McCain speaks of what he will do to bring about the world he envisions.

McCain needed to give the best speech of his life and he gave it. He showed poise and authority. Obama tried that as well, but many will see his attempt as mere rhetoric. Everything McCain said was believable, relevant, and founded on solid principles. Well done, sir.

I only hope this speech will be aired the night before the elections.

More keen insights here, at The Pantheon Journal

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