Reactions to McCain's Speech

I’ve been an imperfect servant of my country for many years. But I have been her servant first, last and always. And I’ve never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I didn’t thank God for the privilege. — John McCain, Sept 4, 2008

Sen. John McCain is not a natural at the teleprompter, and his speech was at least ten minutes too long, but he struck the right tones, and the last twenty minutes of his speech were humble, heartfelt and tremendously moving – moving enough so that the last paragraphs of the speech were drowned out in emotional cheers. I think he did what he needed to do. And I liked that both he and Gov. Palin talked about being “servants” to the country.

Glenn Reynolds has the full text, and his own reactions as well. I’ll excerpt its stirring conclusion, in case (like me) you could not quite hear it for all the cheering – all italics mine:

I’m not running for president because I think I’m blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need. My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God.

If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you’re disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist in our Armed Forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed. Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier. Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself.

I’m going to fight for my cause every day as your President. I’m going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank Him: that I’m an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth, and with hard work, strong faith and a little courage, great things are always within our reach. Fight with me. Fight with me.

Fight for what’s right for our country. Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.

Fight for our children’s future. Fight for justice and opportunity for all. Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Stand up for each other; for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.

Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here. We’re Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.

He was clearly speaking from his heart, and I admit, I was inspired, and proud of my country, and genuinely admiring of McCain for his toughness and his humility. And once again (despite what the critics say) we heard, as we did last night, an invitation to all Americans, not to simply consent to be led, but to go out and lead, doing great things in small-but-meaningful and invaluable ways. Yes, I liked the speech; it was real. I think it is time to get back to some of the volunteering I’ve sort of gotten out of, and I will do that.

Kate at Small Dead Animals: It’s what makes his campaign slogan work so well

As Betsy Newmark seems also to note: McCain is at his best, and most moving when he talks about what this country means to him. I was struck also by this line:

I loved [America] because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s.

Amba was moved by that, too

I liked Cindy McCain’s speech, too. Also too long, but authentic and heartfelt.

Four words Jim Geraghty did not expect to hear: “And they broke me”. I didn’t expect them either, and they shocked me. They also moved me enormously. Poignant. Humility like that cannot be faked.

Dirty Harry liveblogged the speech, as did the incomparable Althouse.

I liked his off-the-cuff moments, as when the Code Pink Clown tried to charge the stage, and he said, “don’t let the ground noise throw you off.” He also noted, America “wants us to stop yelling at each other!” Amen, sir.

Reactions – will be updated continuously, most recent first, so check back!:

Victor Davis Hanson: the last minute was WORTH the whole hour! Completely agree.

Professor Bainbridge has thoughtful comments bang out of the box.

Ace really hates Keith Olbermann.
This is not hard to fathom.

Gay Patriot is glad he followed his gut and voted McCain in the primaries.

Cobb’s got the cartoons going on

Strata: Also moved by McCain’s simple love of country, and his humility in confession he was “blessed by misfortune”

Megan McArdle liked the video

The Corner is mostly shrugging

MSNBC: Uses a Bush Derangement Headline.

Allah: …like watching Rosie O’Donnell and Alex Jones argue over who’s thinner.


Patterico: Shamefully exploiting female issues.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • irascibleChef

    McCain got it VERY right tonight!
    I believe McCain and Palin are in the right place at the right time in history to be the next President and Vice. I know it goes against conventional wisdom, but that’s exactly when it happens!


  • newton

    There is one aspect of McCain’s speech that got me.

    Remember how Obama has said he’s going to do all those things to America and how his followers think of him as The Messiah, the Savior of America?

    Yet McCain said tonight, “I love America because she saved me.” America saved him. Before spending a long time in a closet of a cell, he was all about numero uno. But that POW cell had a way to polish that rough carbon stone into a diamond. And it is because America “saved” him that he fights for her.

    Of course, that is in the metaphorical sense.

  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    Responding to comment from previous thread (pre-speech) — I wasn’t angry, just still cautious.

    Now post-speech –
    McCain is to be greatly applauded for NOT following the MSM’s insistence that he “distance himself from Bush.” It was a good speech in places, but I do think it could have been better. That is, I think that his speechwriters could have written him a better speech — not substance-wise necessarily, which was good, but delivery-wise. That is, perhaps the reason he seems to be not-so-good a speech-giver is the text of his speeches.

    His most effective was the ending, when he suddenly had rapid-fire energy to strongly shout over the cheers, “stand up for this, stand up for that . . .” He showed that he could, in fact, demonstrate “fire in the belly” in a speech, and his speechwriters should have given him more opportunities to do so.

    A good speech is like a symphony — it has changes in rhythm and pace and pitch and sound, from slow to fast to soft to loud. And in the ending, McCain showed that he could exhibit such skills after all. So write him a speech that can be delivered like a symphony! Don’t write him a speech that is flat for the first 3/4 and then appropriately slows down for the very moving POW stuff and only then builds to a cresendo! Arghh!!! He showed in the end he could do it if you craft the whole speech that way.

    As for the coverage — WTF with them suddenly cutting away to show protesters on multiple occasions? Don’t tell me that is news that has to be covered. That is an editorial decision on the part of the network to interject opposition against McCain. It’s not news. In sports events they NEVER show the idiots who try to disrupt the proceedings. They wisely refuse to show them because, to show them would be, in effect, to endorse what they are saying. And that is exactly the reason that the networks cut to the protestors here — to purposely take away from McCain!

    All in all, I’m fed up and can’t take watching them (the MSM) anymore. They disgust me.

    Advice to McCain? Well, just compare the response you get with the Barracuda to the responses you were getting embracing your “friends” in the MSM. Conservatives have shown they will embrace you and put you over the top, so you damn well better continue to embrace them back. Grade? Oh, I’d say . . . B+

  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    One “problem” with McCain is his reticence to speak about his POW experiences, just like George H.W. Bush avoided speaking about his wartime experiences and Bob Dole avoided going into depth about his experiences. As such, as powerful as his remarks are about his imprisonment, they are still not as gut-wrenching as they could be.

    A couple of weeks ago we had a speaker at our local Theology on Tap who had been a POW in Vietnam for about 4-5 years. Much of that time was spent at the “Hanoi Hilton,” where McCain was kept. This particular speaker got a lot deeper into the specifics. It was stomach-churning.

    I can understand that the McCain folks absolutely would not want to politicize it (although they are accused by the Dems of doing exactly that, even though the experience cannot be avoided), but as bad as it sounded at the convention, they only scratched the surface. It is a quandary because, if you bring up too much of it, it looks like you are exploiting it for political gain, but if you fail to bring it up, then there are some much-needed lessons being missed.

  • lsusportsfan

    “Advice to McCain? Well, just compare the response you get with the Barracuda to the responses you were getting embracing your “friends” in the MSM. Conservatives have shown they will embrace you and put you over the top, so you damn well better continue to embrace them back. Grade? Oh, I’d say . . . B+”

    Bender let me say just a little on this. I know what you are getting at. I am pretty conservative but the all wonderful conservative base has thrown Bush under the Bus a few times though he has given them 80 percent of what they want. I keep hearing how McCain is not conservative enough but he appears to be conservative often on non sexy issues.

    Sometimes cozying up to the very conservative media and pundits and just throwing them red meat for the sake of popularity is not good too. For instance I was fine with the gang of 14. But many conservatives thought that would be a fine issue to go nuclear on. Perhaps that was Country first. It just seems to me that when McCain is asking tough questions on immigration, Dubai POrt Deal, torture, etc he is accused of just wanting to cozy up to the MSM.

    When JOhn McCain back in the 90′s went back and ate bread with hthe country that gave him hell to normalize relations he did it because he wanted to put “Country FIrst” not because he wanted to cozy up to the media. I am just saying perhaps he actualy belives these things.

    That being said I loved the speech and find it stirring. One other thought. I do think a lot of great speech making is related to body language. I never quite recognized till the last few days how perhaps constrained he is as to up body movement with his arms. In fact it seems when he does use his arms it is with very deliberate thought. I think his health is great. However I get indications that perhaps in some ways his ability to make a speech full of vigor is constrained by perahps other factors.

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  • Klaire

    Bender I think it’s just too hard for most Vietnam Vets to talk about the experience. At least that has been my expereince of family and friends.

    On another note, I was just thinking about little Trig, the beautiful Palin family, the grandkid to be, and of course, the McCain Family. I didn’t realize that John M had 7 kids.

    Somehow, I just can’t find it a coincidence that these two families are together on the world stage. Of all the admonishment M Theresa gave to this country over abortion, it’s almost eerie (in a GOOD way), to think that one of her “babies” is among them!

    I was never fanatical about overturning R v W, mostly because it will just go to the states but more so because abortions will only ever stop when hearts change. If there is any chance of a “heart change”, of Americans on aborton, these will be the families, I think, through whom God will inspire.

    On one other note, Britian appears to be in LOVE wtih Palin. Isn’t it interesting that when you get the “real thing” you don’t need rock star concerts to be liked!

  • HNAV

    Thanks for the insight and the links…

    “In my life, no success has come without a good fight, and this nomination wasn’t any different. That’s a tribute to the candidates who opposed me and their supporters. They’re leaders of great ability, who love our country, and wished to lead it to better days. Their support is an honor I won’t forget.

    I’m grateful to the President for leading us in those dark days following the worst attack on American soil in our history, and keeping us safe from another attack many thought was inevitable; and to the First Lady, Laura Bush, a model of grace and kindness in public and in private. And I’m grateful to the 41st President and his bride of 63 years, and for their outstanding example of honorable service to our country.”

    It was a good beginning.

    John McCain did fine.

    He seemed like he could be President, and might be more trustworthy for Americans than the Opposition.

    In the Primaries, faced with Romney’s positive optimism, was told to smile. Since Senator McCain won the Nomination, and Romney showed such class stepping aside, McCain’s demeanor has softened. Perhaps overcoming the letdown of 2000, helped him overcome the apparent bitterness he has displayed for the past years. McCain looks relaxed these days, and thus more attractive.

    I greatly appreciated his acknowledgment of President Bush. Even complimenting those in the Primary, who competed against him and have made him a better Candidate, showed good taste.

    However, the apparent contradiction to the brave Maverick remains. It is evident within this opening, (as well as it is within the rest of the offering), that John McCain wasn’t able to mention GW Bush by name.

    Laura Bush is a positive poll force, so she was mentioned. Bush Sr. was not. Certainly, this is more of the product of a calculating Campaign Management, which is afraid the Democrat Opposition will use the reference of a Bush name for their advantage. But this is a mixed message, because if this is truly the brave Maverick, you won’t care about this polling danger, and will Lead without obvious political calculations.

    John McCain’s speech did not inspire, for his natural lean is to try to placate all. He did say many things which were wonderful, (especially to overcome the self serving partisan garbage) and his handling of the mindless protests showed great restrain-class that McCain has developed during the Primary.

    But, McCain’s expression is a vivid contrast to his own VP Candidate which inspires. The reason, is not a lack of charisma, for his plain manner and simplistic strength is assuring. His heroic past, even McCain telling the same story recounted again from prior years, is truly moving.

    However, the problem for McCain, in my humble opinion, is a conflicted offering which doesn’t match his record. Gov. Palin has a history which reinforces her sound expression, is an accomplished Outsider, who hasn’t been in Washington for 3 Decades. She also maintains an attractive conviction, which is missing with Senator McCain.

    He prefers to try to accommodation. While the results of this Maverick strategy over the past 24 years in Washington hasn’t been very successful. And the motive remains questionable, for it remains uncertain if it was always ‘Country First’, as the Campaign is now claiming. We know John McCain’s personal ambition has been quite evident for years. It is understandable, for few Senator Celebrities are NOT filled with this personal vision of their own importance.

    One must take a new leap of faith, to believe McCain can be a sound manager, providing the Leadership to accomplish what he hasn’t before. And the McCain-Feingold offering, makes one question his desired bi-partisan approach, which may be counterproductive, sacrificing sound policy for a shared adventure.

    I found the evening, a timid return to the prior evening showcasing Fred Thompson and Senator Lieberman. It slipped downward again into uncertainty. Perhaps the sale of the ambivalent independent is a wise political move. Perhaps the attempt to attract the Democrats and Independents by appealing to their desires could be a winner.

    Lindsey Graham was terrible, and even made a rather absurd claim, that the successful Surge would have never happened without the brave Senator McCain. This seems deeply insulting to the AUTHOR of the strategy, General Petraeus, to the Men and Women in the Armed Forces, and this fine sitting President, who remained steadfast on Iraq (and ultimately responsible for the potential Liberty in Iraq and Afghanistan). During the Primaries, this poster objected strongly to Senator McCain’s attempt to personally claim responsibility for the Surge and the demeaning of Sec. Rumsfeld. At least the Senator himself, wisely references General Petraeus in his offering these days.

    All in all, it is good enough for Senator McCain in this Race. He did fine. Negatives aside, it seems many understandably support the McCain Presidential Campaign, for serious concern about the vapid Liberal Democrat alternative.

    McCain has made the case, he will defend the USA, adopting much of the Bush Administration’s wise strategy to confront dangerous threats around the World.

    That is welcome indeed.

    Maybe John McCain will turn out to be the Greatest President ever…

    He also has a very impressive VP Candidate who inspires.

    But I am tempted to ask, can Palin carry the Maverick to the White House?

    Ms. Malkin states it well:
    “McCain is McCain. He was who he’s always been tonight: a war hero with an unabashed love of country who acknowledges his flaws, gives too much benefit of the doubt to his political opponents, and bends over backwards to reach out to the other side of the aisle in misguidedly mistaking partisanship for evil.”
    McCain at the RNC – Malkin Link

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  • ViolaJ.

    I was very moved by McCain’s speech tonight. Yes, he might not be as smooth in his oratory skills as Obama is, but this is not about theatrics, it is about getting the business of the United States of America done. He simply is a much , much more seasoned candidate, with not only years and years of government experience, but his own character has been molded by being broken as a human being. It tends to place a great deal of humility into a persons heart because perspectives change drastically when you realize you are not the center of the universe.

  • Kovacs

    Interesting that the part of the speech you found most inspirational is the call to public service and community activism–community organizing, if you will–the same basic American value that Rudy Giuliani and Governor Palin mocked in their Wednesday speeches, to the hooting approval of the assembled.

    [False. That is not correct. Giuliani and Palin did not mock community service and fact Palin's whole political career happened because she joined a PTA. They WERE mocking the notion - and it is not an unfair mockery in a presidential election - that a few years as a community "organizer" is something that relates directly to the sort of executive leadership that is required in the WH. My husband and I, either together or singly, have engaged in volunteerism all our lives, both as Dems and Republicans and as Indy's. Niether of us feel like our years as volunteers prepared us to be in the WH. I saw a study recently - can't remember where - that counts conservatives as doing more volunteer work that Dems across the nation. There is nothing but good to come from volunteering. But a community organizer is not a volunteer. It's a vague-sounding sort of job that many equate with handing out flyers. I'm sure it's much more than that, but Obama needs to define what it is better, if he's going to make it a big part of his resume, as he has. - admin]

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  • Kovacs

    Bringing together people in a extra-governmental context and addressing problems at a grass-roots level? I think it’s exactly that sort of experience–unusual in a presidential candidate–that many people find appealing about Obama. And Obama has talked at length in his books and speeches what that experience entailed for him, and how it prepared him for leadership. If one wants to know what more he did than hand out flyers, the information’s pretty easy to come by.

    I’d say that even if Giuliani and Palin weren’t mocking community organizers per se–a claim I consider dubious–the Republican audience, with their chants of “Zero” and their laughter, were clearly signaling that community organization to be a liberal, inner-city absurdity. Obama’s campaign raised another 10 million dollars the next day, so I’m certain I’m not the only person who found the attacks repugnant and actually sort of racist.

    [The "zero" chant is exceedingly stupid, and I don't approve of it, but I don't find it "racist." It's just the lower end of "politics as usual" and both parties have more than managed to dip their toe into the low end this cycle, as we've seen.

    A thought: It is much too easy to throw words like "racist" and "sexist" around, but when we overuse them, we tend to dull the edge, dangerously, for when the real thing rears its head. Just like overusing the word "fascist" until the real thing cannot be easily recognized.- admin]

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  • irascibleChef

    [MSNBC: Uses a Bush Derangement Headline.]

    MSNBC isn’t even a legitamate news organization any more!

    MSNBC: Keith Olbermann, reported that he counted how many times Fred Thompson had to clear his throat during his speech at the Republican National Convention—72 was reported.