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Thoughts on the McCain Speech

September 5, 2008

On whole, I was very impressed with John McCain’s speech last night. The guy himself can still be a class act, and I have a sense that that is the real him (more on that later) we saw up on stage last night.

I was a bit surprised by McCain’s acknowledgement of “we lost their trust”. He’s right, of course, and good on him for coming out and saying it. That’s the sort of blunt honesty I haven’t seen out of the Republicans in a long while.

And I must admit, his speech tugged at my conservative heartstrings. When he ran through his principles, he touched on a lot of what drew me to the Republican side of things. Smaller, leaner government that works for the people. Though I must note, the items that resonated with me seemed to fall flat wth the crowd. It’s striking, how much the GOP has shifted since 2000 (much less ’96 or ’92). Conversely, the items that drew chanting – yes, chanting – from the crowd struck me as a bit silly.

Which brings me to drilling for oil. I’ll be honest. I could care less about Florida. It’s flat, humid, hot, infested with terrible drivers and routinely makes the news for such bizarre stories as firing a teacher who showed his class a magic trick for, and I kid you not, “practicing wizardry”. So the idea of offshore drilling doesn’t really inspire me one way or the other. With the current price of oil, it makes sense. Lots of unprofitable little wells are being reopened across the country these days because soaring prices suddenly make them profitable again. If there are reserves off the Florida coast, great. Okay.

Thing is, though, drilling for oil is unlikely to impact the price at the pump. First, because it’ll take years to get new wells online and the infrastructure in place to support them, and second, because it’ll be a drop in the bucket. In my opinion, the people who will benefit the most are the execs of the oil companies that secure the drilling rights.

And yet, the convention crowd has taken on “DRILL FOR OIL” as some kind of chant or war cry. Huh? Why?

I thought McCain was mostly fair to Obama, as well. There was the usually political stuff – my opponent will raise your taxes, yada yada, but none of the hateful negativity that was on display earlier this week. It was refreshing.

The POW story. Beautiful story with a powerful lesson on the limits of what you can handle on your own. Then again, so was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. All joking aside, I still don’t think the POW experience is anything more than that – an experience. It’s not a qualification for higher office. And last night, refreshingly, McCain didn’t treat it like one.

Summing it all up, I found myself coming away reminded of how fond I am for McCain as a man and a senator. I found myself nostalgic for those old-fashioned conservative principles. And I found myself worried. If this is the true McCain we saw last night, why has he been so absent in the rest of the campaign? Why has this vibe been so completely non-existent at the convention? I can come to only two conclusions. Either this isn’t the true McCain, or it is the true McCain, and he has pretty much no control over the course or messaging of his campaign…

Comments are welcome, but let’s please keep them civil. Let’s assume everyone in this thing is running because they really think they can make America a better place…

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