John McCain’s Acceptance Speech
John McCain has accepted the nomination of the Republican Party for president. His speech, like Barack Obama’s a week before, was long for my tastes and contained far too many bromides that could have been in any convention speech of his party in recent years.
McCain continued a strategy that I’ve disagreed with but that has gotten him this far in building so much around his Vietnam experience. His repeated professions of love for his country, accompanied by chants of USA! USA! USA! put me in mind of the Olympics. As I keep reminding myself, though, I’m not the target audience.
McCain’s speech wasn’t as funny as Sarah Palin‘s and his delivery wasn’t as good as Obama’s. Despite having delivered big speeches, including convention speeches, for years, he seemed to have difficulty dealing with unexpected applause.
He’s not selling himself as an orator, though. He did what he had to do: Delivered a competent speech, contrasting his service and experience with that of his opponent, while emphasizing that he understands the need to deal with the country’s problems. The speech won’t generate a groundswell of support but will likely both steady the base and appeal to moderates.
Update (Alex Knapp): My main problem with this speech, as with Palin’s, was not so much the delivery as the writing. This one was particularly bad from that angle–there was no narrative or flow to the thing. It jumped from biography to patriotism to attacks to policy to patriotism to biography. It was disjointed and I think that made it more difficult for McCain to do what he needed to do. It was also surprisingly short on detail–I think the most time was spent talking about education reform and energy (with no mention of solar even though he mentioned other alternatives, which I thought strange).
However, I thought McCain handled the protesters well. (Note to everyone who thinks about protesting an event like this: you always make yourself look like an idiot and end up hurting your own cause. Plus, it’s rude. Stop it!) And while I think that a lot of the promotion of McCain’s history as a POW this election has bordered on tasteless, I thought that it was well handled in this speech. Personally, I’m not sure he needed to bring it up at all, but he did it with a lot of grace and that portion was by far the most effective part of his speech.
All in all, I’m not sure if the speech made much of an impact on voters, but I don’t think it hurt, either. At this point, most people are pretty familiar with John McCain, and he didn’t really give them anything different.