I didn’t get a chance to see it live, but read through the text a few times\. It’s not particularly harsh. Line or two about how Obama thinks he is the chosen messiah for the times and McCain is the servant, but they feel (at least in the reading) phoned in.
Not heavy on specifics to say the least (mention of the child tax credit increase). Still no direct mention of Afghanistan–only a vague reference to al-Qaeda. Lots of boilerplate.
But I did find this graf intriguing–not sure I agree or disagree but it’s an intriguing connection:
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?
The essence is that he fights for America, particularly a focus on middle America. He’ll fight corruption in Washington, bad guys abroad. That’s good but who could be against these things?
It’s a surprisingly serene text given the vitriol of the previous two days, particularly last night. As well as the fear Obama campaign they have run. For all of Rudy’s discussion last night that the Democrats were afraid to offend terrorists and Palin’s snark about how Democrats wanted to “read them their rights”, there is NO direct mention of what McCain claims (or did until the Russian-Georgian war anyway) was THE existential threat: namely (so-called) Islamic extremism.
That’s different….I guess. I find it a weird combo of a fairly sedate speech mixed with this language of fighting and the fightin’ spirit. It reads like something from George HW Bush in 92 or Dole in 96.
I do like this shout out to Alvin Toffler and a Marxist twinged techno-economic base/superstructure argument:
We need to change the way government does almost everything: from the way we protect our security to the way we compete in the world economy; from the way we respond to disasters to the way we fuel our transportation network; from the way we train our workers to the way we educate our children. All these functions of government were designed before the rise of the global economy, the information technology revolution and the end of the Cold War. We have to catch up to history, and we have to change the way we do business in Washington.
In Tofflerian, McCain is describing the Third Wave de-coupling of our institutions from the economic platform–schools built around the Fordist assembly line model, entitlement system built out of the WWII employer era Big Gov/Big Labor/Big Business consensus. Maybe Gingrich wrote that section.
Then he ends with his story of being a POW. So he will run the biography tour, the vague embrace of greatness conservatism (“freedom, prosperity, low taxes, family values”) and try I suppose some appeal to the center–some I’m not Bush frame–while he has the others do the nasty work of fear Obama/rev up the base. It’s a tough bet because if he (McCain) is to do the attacking he runs the risk of losing women/moderate votes, appearing irascible/crotchety. But if they don’t get him some existential threats (see his response to Russia), he fades and mostly phones it in.
I guess it’s all they can do. But he’s really going to have to step it up for the debates. The major problem for his campaign is that the Palin story appears headed to continue to overshadow McCain. What possible very short term gains that might get (and I’m not convinced there will be), that can’t be good for them I gotta think.
Amateur Campaign Watch:
They had McCain in front of a green screen again?
if you didn’t see Colbert with the Green Screen Challenge, here is my favorite:
Update i: A reader writes into Andrew Sullivan, saying the speech sounding more like a reminiscent, nostalgic swan song for a career than looking forward to a new one. I think that’s about right. That gets at what I was trying to say about the lack of urgency in the text.
Update II: Mrs. Dierkes (my Mrs.) likes this Green Screen challenge (which incidentally was my second favorite).