Sweet bloody balls, is that snorefest over tonight? Golly, Johnny McCain just can't deliver the goods when it comes to speechifying, now can he? It was a comatose performance.
Granted, that's not an absolute essential skill when it comes to presidentin, but in today's telegenic age it seems you're going to have to have something with which to address the people of America, something to help rally them to your side, something to inspire whether it be for national defense or national service. And watching McCain up there tonight....damn, he just can't do the thing. (yes, Dorothy Parker did say of the announcement of "Silent" Calvin Coolidge's death, "How can you tell?" but still...)
I know, I know, the attendees, pumped up with piped-in oxygen and Rush Limbaugh's spare oxycontin were delirious with joy over half of the speech, but it isn't partisanship that leads me to ridicule this speech (that comes later), but sheer aesthetics. Dayummn, but this was an uninspired offering by a man whose rise to national recognition isn't through being out there on the stump or through powerful floor speeches in the depths of Congress. This is a man whose prominence comes from exceptionally well done glad-handling of the press in such intimate encounters as 'round Tim Russert's table and hogging one half of Larry King's split screens.
Strange that the GOP decided to give so much red meat to the VP pick, the eminently skimpy resumed Sarah Palin, that the top of the ticket seemed so malnourished. McCain never comes off well in these scenarios and putting a real firebrand on the ticket seems now, in retrospect, to have had the effect of overshadowing the main guy. Palin came off as forceful (if unrelentingly vicious and vapid), while McCain now looks humble beside her -- and not in a good way. People are already wondering when she'll drop him from the ticket.
Tonight, the final night of the convention seemed a non-stop POW reference manual, while last night was all elbows thrown and tough talk. Seems kinda hard in my mind to walk that back and step down from that kind of rhetoric, then if you do adjust the dial to a lower thermostat setting, it diffuses the energy built up previously. A classic lose-lose for McCain who needed both to pump up the audience to give himself an adrenaline boost to make him more appealing to the home viewers, while at the same time not frothing at the mouth like Wednesday night's Il Ducciani.
While the meat wasn't as red as Wednesday's nights entrees (I was especially fond of Mitt Romney's belief that the current Supreme Court was, in fact, liberal), McCain's speech differentiated him from the rest of the roster by at least adding a few specificy-sounding bromides about things like clean coal and lower taxes, but when he reads a laundry list, he reads a laundry list. Somehow, Bill Clinton can take the same bullet pointed proposals and give those fuckers operatic strength. McCain lacks the former President's folksiness and his odd gravitas. Bill's puffy faux pompadour of white lends him a powdered wiggish strength, though he could still belt out a PowerPoint presentation text back in 1994 (when he wasn't so gray) and make it sound like Gettysburg as delivered by Charlton Heston.
And while it'd be a trifle strange for me, white suburbanite, to cast aspersions on other white suburbanites, if you watched the convention you'd know what kind of uber-honkitude this latest pageant offered up to home viewers. Network camera operators seemed overly desperate to include all fourteen black and brown attendees and scoured the floor to find them, while the GOP sits and twiddles its thumb over the electoral landmine of Latino votes who could be courted successfully were it not for the overwhelming power of xenophobes from East Elbow, South Dakota and other assorted crackers. More than just a reflection on the tickets, the paler shade of white of this year's convention has successfully undone every bit of minority outreach Bush and Rove practiced, probably their most intelligent strategy.
A few random notes:
I am astonished that no one thought McCain in front of a green screen for any duration was a good idea after his disastrous "cottage cheese in a lime jello salad" moment at his earlier pre-buttal. Then they let it go on for so long. WTF?
The constant audience chanting of USA might have fit into McCain's chosen theme of "Country First" but the crowd seemed ready to go with that no matter what the occasion. Code Pink protestors? USA! USA! War in Iraq? USA! Historical reference? USA! It got to the point even McCain seemed to be getting techy about it.
Cindy McCain, after being rightfully dogged for wearing a $300,000 outfit on Wednesday night, came out Thursday looking like she'd just awoken, her hair a bed-headed mess. Wonder what that's all about....
And what was up with the combative nature of her speech? Usually auditioning First Ladies give the usual kind of "my husband, he's so peachy keen" demure business. But tonight, Cindy's introduction veered erratically from "John's the BEST!!1! Rawk on!" to "Down with Obama" with considerably less quiet showgirlisms. That's to be applauded as a barrier breaking, I guess, but whoever shepherded her through her mess of an address had little sense of structure or how to build an argument.
Same could be said for McCain's rambling mess of a speech. It didn't actually go anywhere, it just puttered along. And another thing! And another thing!
Sincerely, the GOP is really off their game this election. Their brand is electoral death and no wonder. Hell, no wonder they're trying to run the game as "change" when Republicans have held power for five of the last eight legislative years and all of the last eight executive ones. I won't even get into how long its been since the Supremes have been a force for good instead of a pro-business front. RICO is too good for that gang.
Anyway, nothing major, just the Presidency and the future of our nation at stake here. No worries. Why bother with experience or vision? Ain't there some hotdog salesman who deserves a shot at the VP slot? Republicans want us to believe we're governed by those who are exactly like us, but having stood in enough grocery store checkout lines, I can only hope America aims higher than that.