I’d intended to liveblog some of the RNC Convention speeches as I had done for those of the Obamas and Hillary Clinton. But, owing to various causes, I was never in front of my laptop when the speakers were on the stage. The good news is that I heard most of them on the radio in real time, and came up with a mental list of witty and/or insightful comments for each. The bad news is that I am old and have since forgotten all of those observations, except for a vague notion that I had some killer joke involving Guillani and a bicycle with no seat.
Oh well. You know what they say: Lack of anything worth saying is the soul of blog.
Too dumb; didn’t watch.
Sweet baby corn, can this guy deliver a speech or what? The “substance” of his tirade was laughable (Washington is a hotbed of liberalism in need of a McCain-Palin napalming), but few can spoon out the flummery with such aplomb. The crowd also did a good job of pretending like they believed a word of it, except when Romney said “it’s time for the party of big ideas, not the party of Big Brother” and there was a momentary silence while everyone was, like, “wtf dude, I thought you were on our side …?”
Okay, confession time: I kind of like Huckabee. I mean, I like him the same way I like America’s Funniest Home Videos: fun to watch, but I’m glad I’m not the one getting a golf ball to the nuts. Were he ever elected president I would immediately pack up the family and move to Mimas.
Still, for all the right likes to espouse religion when it’s politically expedient, Huckabee strikes me as the real deal. He’s staunchly anti-abortion and anti-gay as you would expect, but also pro-environment (because God entrusted us with the stewardship of the Earth, he says), opposed to the death penalty in principle, and adopted a populism platform in the primaries that seemed to arise from genuine concern with poverty. I like that his positions seem to stem from a consistent philosophical framework, even though I think that framework is dead wrong. Better than those politicians that just adopt whatever position they think will help them win. (This is also why I liked Ron Paul, another candidate I swooned over specifically because there was zero chance that he would actually become president.)
Unfortunately, this was very much a standard convention speech, part of an orchestrated campaign to steal the “change” theme from the Democrats. Two fantastic lines, though. First, “I’m not a Republican because I grew up rich, but because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life poor, waiting for the government to rescue me.” The second line, “[Palin] got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States!” actually made me laugh out loud in my car (and I was genuinely disappointed to later learn that it was a categorically false statement–so sad).
Most of us -- most of us can lift our arms high in the air so that we can signify when we want something. [McCain] can't even lift his arms to his shoulder, which is a constant reminder that his life is marked not by what he's wanting to receive, but rather by what he has already given.
Oh man, so clumsy. Nice metaphor guys, but that one could have used a few more hours in rewrite.
I really had no strong opinions on Palin going into her speech. Afterward, I continued to have no strong opinions. Why? Because it seemed obvious to me that there wasn’t a trace of Palin in there. It was clearly written for her–frankly, given the short amount of time that had elapsed since the announcement, and the whirlwind of publicity that Palin had endured thereafter, I don’t know that she could have written her own material even had she wanted to.
But while I have no strong opinions on Palin, I do have one grave concern: that she is simply going to serve as an empty vessel into which McCain–or, rather, the McCain campaign–can just pour slogans and bromides. You know, like Chemo.
By the way, I managed to get annotated draft of the speech in which several analogies were considered and discarded before it was decided to compare Palin and “a pitbull with lipstick”. Here were some of the others:
- A shih tzu with a hairdo
- A malamute with a manicure
- A ferret with a frock
- A gecko with glasses
- A penguin with a pregnant daughter
- A capybara with an assault rifle
- A platypus with a bone spur inside of each hind limb which can squirt poison–true fact, look it up
- A kitten with a LOLCAT caption
- A polar bear with no need for endangered species protection
- A crazy person on the street corner holding a REPENT sign
I used to like and admire McCain. In fact, I’m one of those people who would have loved a Kerry/McCain ticket in 2004 (or, to be honest, a Democrat-Who-Was-Not-Kerry/McCain ticket). I appreciated his willingness to buck his own party, and agreed with him on many of the issues (especially his drive for campaign finance reform, opposition to torture, and rejection of the Bush tax cuts for the affluent). You know, back when he was a maverick.
Sadly, in the primary McCain took out more mortgages on his reputation as a reformer than he has on his nine houses. (Oh ZING! You can totally use that one.) So in February, when he finally caved on waterboarding, it was like the final scene in a Shakespearean tragedy. Or perhaps the final installment in a Lucas trilogy, as he joined the ranks of other honorable Republicans who pulled an Anakin. (Powell was another.)
Well, you could argue, all politicians do this: tack to the extremes during the primaries and then head for the center as the general election looms. Obama himself has reversed himself on a number positions, including public campaign funding, the FISA bill (for shame, Senator), and, today, 527s. That’s bad, no doubt about it. But reversing yourself on your signature issues (all of them!) is something else entirely. McCain’s reliance on lobbyists to run his campaign, and his gaming of FEC funding rules, for instance, is diametrically opposed to his past advocacy for campaign finance reform, the issue for which he is the most well-known.
McCain’s acceptance speech was, above all else, boring. Too long, too biographical, and waaaaay too derivative of the Democrats message of change. (Seriously, even Biden didn’t plagiarize like this. Curious how the “party of big ideas”, as Romney dubbed it, can’t cough up with a campaign slogan that hasn’t in the barackobama.com metadata for the last eight months.)
Not that boring is bad–after eight years of Bush’s recklessness, a little boring might be just what the doctor ordered. But, unfortunately, this speech wasn’t “omg policy details zzzzzzzz” boring, but “omg is there anything in here that’s not a platitude or a self-administered back-pat?” boring. Opening call for civility in the campaign, check. Lauding of the running mate, check. Laundry list of things he’s done right in his career, check. The ceremonial calling-out of people placed in the audience and reciting their heart-warming and/or point-illustrating anecdotes, check. Subtle allusion to his time as a POW, check (albeit one followed, three minutes later, by a ten minute recounting of his time as a POW, for those who missed the earlier reference).
So, here’s the good stuff:
I know how the military works, what it can do, what it can do better, and what it shouldn't do. I know how the world works. I know the good and the evil in it.
I know how to work with leaders who share our dreams of a freer, safer and more prosperous world, and how to stand up to those who don't.
I know how to secure the peace ...
I'm running for president to keep the country I love safe and prevent other families from risking their loved ones in war as my family has. I will draw on all my experience with the world and its leaders, and all the tools at our disposal -- diplomatic, economic, military, and the power of our ideals -- to build the foundations for a stable and enduring peace...
Again and again I've worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed. That's how I will govern as president. I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again.
This passage appears about two-thirds of the way through McCain’s speech, and is immediately followed by the POW stuff. In journalism, that’s called “burying the lede.” Experience is McCain’s most compelling argument, and why they chose to give it only perfunctory mention is beyond me. Maybe this only sells to people like me, for whom Obama’s lack of experience is a genuine concern. Maybe they’ve determined that the base and the Independents are going to vote based on biography, and so that’s what they are going to emphasize from here on out. I don’t pretend to know.
Overall McCain’s speech, while dull, succeeded in reassuring me that a McCain presidency wouldn’t be a disaster. But it did nothing to convince me that such a scenario will ever come to pass. Even in the face of McCain’s bounce, I still think Barack has this election in the bag.