Friday, September 05, 2008

John McCain's Acceptance Speech

The New York Times neatly sums up John McCain's campaign for the presidency in the headline:
The Party in Power, Running as if It Weren’t
McCain is doing this by playing up his maverick image:
As Senator John McCain accepted the Republican nomination for president, he and his supporters sounded the call of insurgents seeking to topple the establishment, even though their party heads the establishment.
He presented himself as non-partisan:
You well know I've been called a maverick, someone who... someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes it's meant as a compliment; sometimes it's not. What it really means is I understand who I work for. I don't work for a party. I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself. I work for you.
Eschewing party interests makes for good copy, but McCain has handed his campaign over to the disciples of Karl Rove in a Faustian bargain to win the election--the same people who used the most scurrilous tactics to attack his character back in 2000.
Running as a reformer is appealing, but McCain offered less in the way of specifics than Obama did a week ago. He said he would veto earmarks (even though he picked a running mate who gorged on them). He said he would cut taxes, drill for oil, fight Al Qaeda and stand up to Iran and Russia. He mentioned housing once, without saying what he would do for families that are losing their homes. He said he "will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance," without saying how.

He did not mention climate change or the environment at all.
He mentioned Iraq twice, and only in the past tense. Set aside the talk about heroism and reform, and the speech is pretty much standard Republican conservatism, except that he's leaving the social conservatism to his running mate.
Last week, Barack Obama answered those who said he was long on stirring speeches and short on specifics when he said he would "spell out exactly what that change would mean" if he were elected. He demonstrated that he was ready for high office by picking a running mate who is manifestly ready to help him govern.
John McCain did not offer a anything close to a program for governing. He demonstrated that he is not ready for high office by casually choosing a running mate who is woefully unprepared to help run the country. It's hard to run as the candidate of change as the nominee of the party in power for the last eight years, but John McCain is trying.


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