Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

McCain’s Speech

I may be the only person in the country who thought John McCain’s speech was much better than Sarah Palin’s or any other speeches this week.
He explained plausibly how his POW experiences led him to be an independent spirit. He seemed sincere when he said, “I was blessed by my misfortunes.” When he said, “I hate war,” I believed it, and forgot about his 100-years-in-Iraq line. He spoke about Republican culpability in Washington as well as Democrats, giving me hope that he really would taken on special interests. I even liked the lack of faith-talk. He doesn’t like to talk about his personal faith, so he didn’t. I sat there really believing that the old John McCain who loved bipartisan problem solving had merely been sleeping inside his partisan shell, awaiting a moment to re-emerge.
The problem is that his attacks on “partisan rancor” came after several days of the most rancor-ish partisanship in memory. Speaker after speaker mocked Obama, the Democrats, “the liberals,” community organizers, and the media elite for wanting American to fail. They pretty much called Obama a traitor: “What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet?: Sarah Palin asked. “To reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world.” Lindsey Graham put it even more baldly: “Barack Obama’s campaign is built around us losing in Iraq,” said Lindsey Graham.
On a more substantive level, I had the sense that McCain would fight the special interests except in one case – health care. His standard Republican spin on this issue ignored that health care reform is the greatest example of the perils of special interest dominance.
At the Democratic convention, John Kerry talked about the difference between Senator John McCain and Candidate John McCain. We also saw the contrast between Wednesday John McCain and Thursday John McCain. If for the next two months we mostly see Thursday McCain, he’ll probably win.
(The end-of-evening confetti had little circular pictures of McCain and Palin in it)

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Reaganite in NYC

posted September 5, 2008 at 11:33 am

Detailed and perceptive post. Yes, there were significant differences in the speeches by Obama and McCain. Obama devoted more time to talking about (and criticizing) McCain. McCain spent less time jabbing Obama in his speech. Chris Matthews at MSNBC did a little textual analysis and reported 21 references to McCain in Obama’s speech — and only 6 references to Obama in McCain’s speech.
McCain’s soul-barring on his POW experiences were revealing.
With the exception perhaps of FDR being paralyzed from polio, I can’t think of another President or nominee in recent history who has had a more traumatic or humiliating adult experience than McCain. Just as polio transformed a relatively carefree Hudson River dilettante and made FDR both more resilient and more emphathetic towards the unfortunate, being a POW did the same for McCain.

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Russ Skinner

posted September 5, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Do you two not realize that all the slams at Obama were okayed by McCain? And that the transformation of his character preceded his adultery, glossed over by the “love at first site” reference in the Cindy video last night?
IMHO, McCain’s was by far the least impressive of the speeches. Everyone their own opinion.

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posted September 6, 2008 at 12:47 am

“Just as polio transformed a relatively carefree Hudson River dilettante and made FDR both more resilient and more emphathetic towards the unfortunate, being a POW did the same for McCain.”
Really? What’s the evidence of this? I’d actually like to know, so if you’d favor me with an answer, I’ll certainly come back to read. Thanks.

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posted September 8, 2008 at 8:06 am

Perhaps no mention was made of universal health care – correctly stated as universal health “insurance” because the Republican party does not think that the government should be in the insurance business.

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