The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

John McCain: The speech

Posted by Bill Nance on September 5, 2008

Well, I think I called it pretty accurately, and God bless him, the John McCain I used to love so well shone out a bit. I think it will resonate well with the undecideds.

McCain’s strength, the thing that’s always made me like the guy, is his authenticity. It showed tonight.

When he started talking about the problems in Washington being the fault of Republicans as well as Democrats, I thought the audience in the hall was going to start booing him. The silence was deafening. I remarked to my wife: “He’s losing them.” On balance however, I think it was a good judgment call. He may have pissed off his immediate audience for a few minutes, but they aren’t going to get him elected and he knows it. If he’s going to win he has to do more than energize the base.

So his admissions of fallibility, and of Republican accountability in particular which while compared to what we’ve become used to from the Republicans sounded like great criticism, were actually very mild to anyone outside the hall. And notably absent of course were any details (Dick Cheney, Halliburton, Alberto Gonzalesz, Brownie, Abramoff, etc).

But it was still pretty ho hum stuff, and about what I’d expected. Sure enough, he played the kindly uncle, just as I predicted, measured in his criticisms, steadfast in his assurances he would keep us all safe.

The last 10 minutes were enough to move anyone. He wasn’t faking it. It was as genuine a moment as I’ve ever seen in him. And his rousing call to fight was well, rousing. And heartfelt. Well done.

Sadly there was precious little substance to the rest of it.

Vague promises, no specifics, except, ironically, a call for a program which the Clinton administration had in place in the 90s to help workers displaced by the loss of timber jobs retrain. It’s nice to see McCain thinks it’s a good idea after 8 years of nothing.

School choice. meh, Republicans have been talking about this issue for a long time and nothing ever changes. They didn’t do anything substantive when they had both houses of congress and the White House for 6 years, something tells me they won’t be doing much better under a McCain administration.

This is the fundamental problem with McCain. you really WANT to love the guy. And as a friend, I’d have to say I’ll bet he’s among the best you could hope to have. But as a politician, there are few examples I can think of where a man has so completely sold out principle for political gain.

Whether it’s tax cuts for the very wealthy, voting against a bill which would have explicitly made illegal torture by the CIA or his sudden embrace of the religious right, a group he’s always held in thinly veiled contempt, the man has literally sold his soul to get where he is. And I believe it weighs on the man.

I feel genuinely sorry for John McCain. He’s a great American. He’s a fine and decent man. But he deserves better treatment than he’s given himself over the last few years.

When he talked about breaking under torture in that cell in Vietnam, and the guilt and shame he felt, I couldn’t help but wonder:John, how will you feel about THIS betrayal? No one tortured you this time. This time you did it all by yourself.

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