September 4, 2008

McCain's speech

Donald B. Hawthorne

On the recent Republican party behavior:

I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.

We're going to change that. We're going to recover the people's trust by standing up again for the values Americans admire. The party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan is going to get back to basics.

On education:

Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school? We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work.

When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them. Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have that choice and their children will have that opportunity.

Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucracies. I want schools to answer to parents and students. And when I'm President, they will.

On energy:

My fellow Americans, when I'm President, we're going to embark on the most ambitious national project in decades. We are going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much. We will attack the problem on every front. We will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore, and we'll drill them now. We will build more nuclear power plants. We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas. We will encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles.

Senator Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that. We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and to restore the health of our planet. It's an ambitious plan, but Americans are ambitious by nature, and we have faced greater challenges. It's time for us to show the world again how Americans lead.

This great national cause will create millions of new jobs, many in industries that will be the engine of our future prosperity; jobs that will be there when your children enter the workforce.

On war:

We face many threats in this dangerous world, but I'm not afraid of them. I'm prepared for them. I know how the military works, what it can do, what it can do better, and what it should not 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.

His conclusion:

I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it 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.

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.

Not a great public speaker, McCain delivered a generally effective speech which conveyed the depth of his life experiences in a self-effacing manner and a willingness to battle for the common man and woman. The contrast with the soaring rhetoric of an empty suit was striking and also done in a completely different and less dynamic way than last night.

However, whether McCain's speech defined a sufficiently clear contrast with Obama for an effective and focused Fall campaign was less clear.

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Everything you said and more is right on. Fortunately, Sen. McCain greatly benefited from low expectations, and as we know, these kinds of speeches are often a matter of expectations. He clearly exceeded expectations, so the speech came off very well. He stood up and was clearly out there as his own man. Regardless of what one might think of McCain, he came off as a man of substance. He's not flashy, or a flash in the pan (like the other guy).

I also appreciated that he took the high road in his speech, and I think others will, too. He looked and acted presidential. I also think he overcame some of the preconceptions that some may have of him.

PS I think he'll be letting the new VP do most of the "pit bull" work -- and stay above the fray himself. I can't wait.

Posted by: Will at September 5, 2008 2:23 AM

The simple dignity of the lectern and walkway were in stark contrast to the "reality show" setup of Greek columns for Obama's speech-McCain didn't need frills nor catchphrases-he delivered a clear,straightforward message-he does not need nor use showmanship to deliver his message-BTW the Code Pink wackos looked like the insignificant pissants they are.

Posted by: joe bernstein at September 5, 2008 7:22 AM

I thought McCain did well. He outlined his life's experience and strong record that has prepared him to become President.

To Will's point, McCain isn't flashy and he's not an entertainer, but he came away looking very "Presidential".

He also did a great job explaining the "Country First" theme describing his transition from a self-centered "flyboy hotshot" to someone who understands the importance of the United States both on a personal level and what the US means to the world.

Ironically, Obama got upset earlier this year because he thought the "Country First" slogan was questioning HIS patriotism. In retrospect, Obama's belief that the slogan was about him made me think of Carly Simon's song ("You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you"). One can't help but come away with the opinion that Obama may still be in his own self-centered "flyboy hotshot" stage. Maybe we can read all read more about it in Memoir #3.

By the way, the teleprompter apparently malfunctioned during Palin's speech, making her address all that more amazing.

Posted by: Anthony at September 5, 2008 12:19 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ John McCain set a new tone for the Republican National Convention Thursday, with speakers abandoning many of the tough words aimed at Barack Obama that had characterized the previous night. But the picture they painted blurred some facts.


Some examples:

MCCAIN: "We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles."

THE FACTS: Yes, Obama voted for a 2005 energy bill backed by Bush that included billions in subsidies for oil and natural gas production. McCain opposed the bill on grounds it included unnecessary tax breaks for the oil industry. But Obama has said he supported the legislation because it provided money for renewable energy. Obama did vote for an effort to strip the legislation of the oil and gas industry tax breaks. When that failed, he voted for the overall measure.

MCCAIN: "When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them. Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have that choice and their children will have that opportunity."

THE FACTS: Despite his goal of giving parents choice in the schools their children attend, he is not proposing a federal voucher program that would provide public money for private school tuition. McCain is proposing only to expand the District of Columbia's voucher program. During his 2000 run for the presidency, he did propose a more than $5 billion school voucher plan, but he is not proposing one now. His advisers say President Bush's No Child Left Behind Law is aimed at giving parents more choice, and he would make improvements to that.

JOHN MCCAIN: "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. I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not."

THE FACTS: It is certainly true that McCain, with two decades in the Senate, has worked in a bipartisan fashion on a number of issues. Legislation that bears his name often carries the name of a Democrat as well. On campaign finance he worked with Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.; on immigration with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.; on climate change with Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. Obama, elected in 2004, has a much slimmer record of accomplishment. He did work with Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana to pass legislation to further curtail illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and to help destroy conventional weapons stockpiles. Unlike McCain, however, Obama did not put himself at odds with his own party leaders by working with Lugar.

SEN. LINDSAY GRAHAM: "Those who predicted failure, voted to cut off funding for our troops, and played politics with our national security will be footnotes in history. There's no doubt about it, we are on the road to victory. ...While Barack Obama expresses appreciation for our troops' service, he refuses to acknowledge their success."

THE FACTS: Obama voted in April of last year for legislation that financed the military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan but included a nonbinding call to pull troops out of Iraq. President Bush vetoed it. Then in May he voted against a subsequent financing bill because the pull-out provision had been removed. The bill, however, passed overwhelmingly. Before his May vote, Obama had voted for every bill that financed the troops since he joined the Senate. On Thursday, campaigning in Lancaster, Pa., Obama conceded that the troop surge had succeeded in reducing violence "beyond our wildest dreams." But, he said the United States government still needs to decide when to "turn over responsibility to the Iraqis for their own country?"

U.S. REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: (Referring to vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin) "We met a woman who, with the bravery that only the mother of five can summon, said 'thanks but no thanks' to the good ole' boy earmarks."

THE FACTS: Palin has cut back on pork-barrel project requests, but in her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. She did reject plans to build the notorious "Bridge to Nowhere" but only after Congress had cut off funding for it. The bridge was a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport. Palin did leave in place a $27 million federally funded project to build the approach road to the bridge. Ketchikan Mayor Bob Weinstein, a Democrat, said Thursday that Palin first told Ketchikan officials during a campaign stop in 2006 that she supported it. When she became governor, and after the project became the subject of national ridicule, she pulled the state's portion of funding.


Associated Press writers Jim Drinkard and Libby Quaid in Washington contributed to this report.

Posted by: Richard at September 5, 2008 12:23 PM

Before his May vote, Obama had voted for every bill that financed the troops since he joined the Senate.

How can it be inconsistant to speak out against pork barrel funding while accepting federal funds for your constituents, but consistant to be against the war while approving funding for it?

Posted by: JP at September 5, 2008 2:01 PM

When Hillary was passed over by Obama and Obama texted his VP announcement at 3AM to jab Hillary about her "who would you trust to pick up the phone at 3AM" commercial", some Clinton supporters said that Obama would eventually regret not asking Hillary to join the ticket.

So my Question for the Day:

In light of the popularity of Sarah Palin and John McCain's comeback, do you think Barack Obama now regrets his decision to dismiss Hillary Clinton as a VP candidate?

I'm just interested in hearing people's opinions.

Posted by: Anthony at September 5, 2008 5:20 PM

The Palin selection has certainly shaken his campaign, at least in the short term, and, at a minimum, has them scrambling to adjust tactics. Yesterday, we learned that they have recruited female Dem politicians, Senator Clinton among them, to attack Gov Palin in battleground states. Link.

And if he loses, it is a question that will presumably haunt him. "Could I have won with Hillary?"

Posted by: Monique at September 5, 2008 10:05 PM

He could win with Hillary easily-but then he would have the specter of Medvedev/Putin haunting him.Oh,I guess it already did.

Posted by: joe bernstein at September 5, 2008 11:26 PM

No way Obama wins with Hillary. Bill's hubris would've dragged that ticket down regardless of the opposition.

Posted by: rhody at September 7, 2008 2:29 AM

Interesting range of opinions.

I think Obama could have won with Hillary on the ticket, but he would have had a difficult time governing after the election given the Clinton camp's prior experience that would be looming over the White House.

I suppose it be like the Green Bay Packers taking back Brett Favre. You know Favre has more experience and can win games, but if you bring him back, the young guy (Aaron Rodgers) never gets to make the team his own.

With Obama trailing McCain by 10 points among likely voters, I'm sure alot of Democrats are wondering whether jetisioning Hillary was the right move, just as Packers fan must be asking themselves whether letting Farve go was the right move.

Posted by: Anthony at September 8, 2008 12:41 PM
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