Speaking truth with power.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Day 4 in St. Paul - End of the Line

Tonight was last call in St. Paul. And so with no further ado to speak of, John McCain took to the stage at the XCEL Center to accept his party's nomination. A touching video montage preceded the Senator's speech, highlighting his personal life, family history, as well as a distinguished career of service. And to that point, there will be very little debate from this commentator about the integrity of John McCain. Plainly said, Senator John McCain is one of the finest Americans this generation will ever know.

However. That doesn't mean he should be the next President. And it surely doesn't get him off the hook for one of worst acceptance speeches in.... well, at least a generation. The beginning of McCain's speech was marred by consistent badgering and hecklers from a few, albeit vocal, no-good-niks. The fast-thinking delegation began chanting "U-S-A!" whenever the dissenters could be heard. But even the support of the crowd couldn't seem to get McCain back on track. His speech never took off. McCain is a notoriously bad public speaker. His style is more suited to off-the-cuff town hall settings, as opposed to the teleprompter. And in spite of the redesigned, more intimate stage that was intended to lean toward McCain's style, he still laid an oratorical goose egg here on the last night of the convention.

But as we've heard here in St. Paul all week, speeches are just that... pretty words. They don't always translate to policy, let alone results. Similarly, a fine resume doesn't always make for a suitable leader. (See Dick Cheney and his boatloads of experience for more examples of this.) John McCain is an exemplary American, with a track record that is ultimately beyond reproach. But Presidents are not elected in this country because a candidate has earned it, or because the electorate owes it to them. And surely these times and this election call for something beyond past achievements. They call for direction, guidance and judgement. Accolades, no matter how honorable, will simply not suffice. (Ditto pretty speeches.) After all just because a man could be President, doesn't necessarily mean he should be.


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