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article imageOp-Ed: Analysis of John McCain’s Acceptance Speech

By Sadiq Green     Sep 5, 2008 in Politics
It was John McCain’s chance to stand before cheering partisans in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul last night to accept the Republican nomination for President of the United States.
Not known as a gifted orator, or an effective public speaker, McCain’s speech was seen as a major test considering it followed the fire and brimstone tone of his running mate Sarah Palin’s address. Sarah Palin had songs of praise sung by delegates about her Wednesday night following her acceptance speech for the vice presidential nomination.
Early on McCain acknowledged his opponent, Senator Barack Obama, and stated his intention to put the country first despite the differences between the two. McCain later acknowledged his running mate Governor Sarah Palin stating:
“She knows where she comes from and she knows who she works for. She stands up for what’s right, and she doesn’t let anyone tell her to sit down.”
McCain set out to draw distinctions between he and Obama by pointing out differences in their tax policy. He ridiculed assistance for unemployed workers without specifying what he proposed to do to help those displaced by the new economy. He suggested that the focus should be on helping people secure new jobs in the global economy and not restore old jobs lost to globalization.
The GOP nominee took on Senator Obama over energy policy, stating his intention to support more offshore drilling and nuclear power. He ran off a series of energy initiatives that he promised would be a part of his administration if elected.
“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.”
Over the course of the convention, little has been mentioned about the occupation of Iraq. The decision to keep President Bush from attending the convention, was primarily due to the public’s disapproval of the war in Iraq. Yet McCain, once again, used his personal P.O.W saga to suggest he was better prepared than Senator Obama to keep the nation safe because of his past experiences:
“I hate war, It is terrible beyond imagination. I’m running for president to keep the country I love safe, and prevent other families from risking their loved ones in ways as my family has.”
It was an example of an often used Republican Party tactic that attempts to mesh patriotism with a sense of entitlement.
On several occasions, John McCain struck a bipartisan chord only to quickly return to a more partisan note, making clear his differences with Barack Obama along the way; and often displaying both personalities in the same breath. He boasted:
“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.”
McCain ended with rousing declarations punctuated with “fight” and “stand up” that brought the convention delegates to their feet. It was probably the most effective public speech McCain has ever delivered. All in all, McCain sought to appear above partisan sniping and used his personal narrative to make his case to the nation.
However, what was really striking to me is what was not mentioned during his address. He did not once utter the name of the sitting President George W. Bush. He offered:
“I’m grateful to the President for leading us in those dark days following the worst attack on American soil in our history,”
And while referring to my personal hero, George H.W. Bush he said:
“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 clearly an attempt to divorce himself from the Bush name altogether. In fact the only Bush he mentioned by name was Laura Bush. In reality he has made himself a man without a party by espousing about the Republicans:
“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."
This was a slap to the face to Democrats and Republicans alike. To Democrats because the last Democratic administration, Bill Clintons actually shrank the government and even left office with a record surplus. It was also an even greater slap to his own party that squandered the surplus, shredded the Constitution and actually expanded the government.
The thing about McCain that is most disingenuous is that after spending the first four years of the Bush administration remaking himself as an independent-minded maverick, McCain has spent the past four years remaking himself as an orthodox Republican and now finds himself running for president at a time when his party is deeply unpopular.
And he is still very unpopular within his own party. That is evident by the fact that the biggest applause he garnered came when he mentioned his running mate Sarah Palin.
In the end we must look to see if his message can come across to independent voters that will put he and Palin over the top come November. Only 60 days left until Election Day.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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