Reactions to McCain’s Speech


Reactions to McCain
Walter Shapiro: “His acceptance speech Thursday night was a mirror of McCain the contradictory political figure — sometimes unorthodox and daring, sometimes plodding and pedestrian; rich in character, light in policy substance, much stronger in its sincere tone than in its rhetorical gloss.”

Joe Klein: “More a valedictory than an acceptance speech — more the end of a career than the beginning of a presidency.”

Andrew Sullivan: “Quite a deflation after the drama of last night with the sportscaster-governor. It made me realize how much I am still fond of this guy. And also clearer about why this is not his moment. The specifics were very vague, and the entire presentation based on biography, nostalgia and a kind of strained, exhausted mildness. His performance at Saddleback was much, much better. He seemed very tired to me.”

Jonathan Martin: “McCain hit all his message targets, eschewing partisan red meat to cast himself as a man who will work across party lines to reform a broken capital. But his delivery, especially in the first portion when he was discussing policy issues, was uninspired and did little to captivate the audience.”

Michael Crowley: “…this is a very underwhelming speech. Familiar points explained in pedestrian terms. No overarching themes–right now it’s sounding like a State of the Union laundry list. Even the crowd in the hall isn’t jazzed. This is the sort of reception Tom Ridge got.”

David Corn: “He offered an unexciting mix of GOP orthodoxy and declarations of personal maverickness–which was capped by yet one more long and detailed recounting of his POW days of forty years ago. Enough already.”

Mark Halperin: “All in all, he came across as calm, honorable, and dedicated rather than fired up and ready to go.”

22 Comments | September 05, 2008

McCain Delivers Flat Speech
Unlike nearly every speaker from last night, Sen. John McCain started his acceptance speech with an appeal to independents and moderate Democrats. He spoke with a very respectful tone when referring to Sen. Barack Obama and his supporters. It’s what he needed to do.

Reinforcing his calmer image were at least two anti-war demonstrators who caused quite a stir in the convention hall. McCain handled it well, creating the opposite effect the protestors wanted: They looked like jackasses, not him.

However, the most striking thing about the speech was the lack of specifics of what he wants to do as president. When Obama was criticized for not talking specifics, he made sure to dedicate a large part of his acceptance speech to specifics. A McCain presidency seems to be mostly about his character and a few tired Republican ideas, such as school choice, cutting foreign aid and the new favorite, “drill, baby, drill.”

McCain is much stronger when talking about foreign policy and the military. He’s very convincing and reassuring when he talks about hating war and wanting to keep the country safe. It’s as if he knows he’s been too bellicose on the campaign trail so far.

We’ve now heard McCain’s personal story as a prisoner of war dozens of times in just three days and he included again in his speech. It’s truly inspiring. No one would ever doubt that McCain loves his country.

But no matter the content, McCain had serious delivery problems with this speech. Starting with the awful lime green background (that later turned to blue) and continuing through McCain’s difficulties reading from the teleprompter, the speech was very disjointed and hard to follow. To top it off, the crowd reaction at the end of the speech seemed forced and staged, almost like delegates were reacting to flashing “applause” signs at the side of the stage.

Overall, it was a very mediocre performance. I’m not sure it got the job done.


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