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McCain “workmanlike”

Posted by Richard on September 4, 2008

Last night, Sarah Palin brought me to my feet. Tonight, I stayed planted in my comfy chair. I've heard McCain's speech described as "workmanlike" several times already, and I suspect that will be the consensus assessment. It emphasizes that McCain has made a big mistake by agreeing to meet Obama strictly in the moderated set-piece type of debate, rather than insisting on at least some of the more free-wheeling "town hall" meetings he originally proposed (and Obama originally agreed to). McCain is much better in that forum than reading from a teleprompter.

The Palin phenomenon is still the story of this convention. By far the loudest applause during Cindy McCain's speech and just about the loudest in John McCain's were for their remarks about Sarah Palin.

Content-wise, I heard a few things I liked — some good, solid free-market, free-trade. low-tax rhetoric, the candid talk about Republicans having abandoned their principles and lost their way, and that terrific bit about education being the civil rights battle of this century.

But there was plenty that left me cold. I was reminded, as I listened to him, of something Bob Bidinotto wrote yesterday (emphasis added): 

My enthusiasm for Palin is that she arguably moves McCain to the right on economics and limited government, which is something that desperately needs to happen to his campaign and — if he wins — to his governing agenda. The convention's banner slogans of "Service" and "Country First" are the GOP's way of creating a comfort zone for McCain's morality of altruism and self-sacrificial duty. At Reason Online, Matt Welch reminds us in an outstanding column that in McCain, we aren't getting a champion of individualism, but an adversary: a champion of "national greatness" progressivism. Self-sacrifice to the nation is at the heart of such a political outlook.

I therefore need to reiterate emphatically that my only reason for supporting the McCain ticket — especially now that Palin is aboard — is that national-greatness progressivism represents a far-less-damaging and more mixed alternative to the utterly destructive, anti-American, left-Wilsonian "progressivism" of Obama. This is especially the case on the paramount issues of national security and energy production. Sadly, in this political environment, stopping Obama requires us to sign on to a philosophically chaotic and often damaging Republican candidate. The Palin pick indicates that free-market, limited-government influences at least will have a seat at the table in a McCain administration, tending to blunt his worst inclinations

By the way, Bidinotto has posted a ton of outstanding stuff this week, mostly about Palin. Just go to his main page and start reading. Be sure to follow his link to David Harsanyi's The Libertarian Case for Palin.

UPDATE: I thought Cindy McCain's speech was rather pedestrian, and I was in and out of the room during it. But I just heard something from a talking head that puts her speech into perspective: she's never done this before!

Apparently, her speech writer wanted to see some other speeches she's given in order to get a sense of what would be appropriate for her. There aren't any. This was her debut. In front of thousands in the hall and millions on TV, she was doing this for the first time! That it was merely pedestrian and not embarrassing is something of a triumph.

I also just saw a clip of Scott Palin speaking. I'm not sure, but I think they said he was introducing Cindy McCain. Anyway, he was great — down to earth, relaxed, and funny. Like his wife, he seemed so damned genuine. The kind of guy you'd like to go drinking with and listen to his stories about fishing.

I've looked for the text or a video, but no luck. If someone knows where to find it, please post a link.

One bit that struck me (paraphrased and not all that exact) went something like this: "When Sarah talks about making a difference and cleaning up corruption and changing things …<pause for effect>… it's best to just get out of the way."

UPDATE2: You know, "I'd rather lose an election than see my country lose a war" is still one of the great statements of all time. And it's even better when you're subsequently proven right.

UPDATE3: I liked this a lot: "I know how to work with leaders who share our dreams of a safer, freer, and more prosperous world … and how to stand up to those who don't." 

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