Fresh off of Sarah Palin's sneering screed of anger, resentment, and cynicism, the fever-brained remnants of Karl Rove's coalition of the rich and the stupid were all set to pick up where they left off in the 2004 campaign. That is to say, they were ready to vilify, demean, and hate. McCain has had trouble nailing down this base of GOP voters but Palin served them well on Wednesday night by feeding them lots of red meat.
The last night of the convention began with Senator Lindsey Graham stoking the coals with a speech that mocked Barack Obama. Then came Cindy McCain (whom Karl Rove smeared as a drug addict in Junior Bush's 2000 primary campaign in South Carolina). Ms. McCain took the time to praise her husband and to introduce her children. It was a gracious presentation, delivered without vitriol, and it presented her family in a positive light. But, its lack of rancor cooled the angry embers that Senator Graham had stoked only moments before.
So, when Mad Johnny came out to make his speech, the crowd was in a state of flux. And, in a daring rhetorical move, McCain crossed his fingers, hoped that Palin's rantings would suffice to sate the Republican beasts, and delivered a speech aimed not at the crowd in St. Paul, but at the television audience.
The speech he delivered focused on McCain's intentions for his administration, and on his personal history. He gave a long and effective recounting of his time as a prisoner-of-war in Hanoi. But his speech did not serve up any red meat for the lunatic crowd that had been whipped into a murderous frenzy by Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, and Lindsey Graham.
McCain even delivered some lines of reprimand aimed at his own party. Check this:
I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption.--John McCain, Sept.4, 2008The applause following this line was decidedly subdued. And, although McCain did refer to Junior in the early part of his speech, he did it without mentioning the name "George W. Bush" --a name so toxic that it must be shunned even at the GOP convention.
It was as if McCain recognized that the old GOP ruse of fear and hatred is no longer sufficient to win a national election. So, with this speech he reached out beyond the crowd of low-brow conservatives that raged in the convention hall to the middle, to those Americans that are not firmly committed to one or the other party. A valiant effort, but probably a forlorn one.
Polls show that most Americans are so thoroughly disgusted with the GOP that McCain's feeble and belated effort will fall mostly on deaf ears. McCain's speech was twice interrupted by shouting protesters. The disgust and contempt that so many Americans feel toward the Republican party followed it into its own convention. Mad Johnny, Republican to the end, had to hold hands with the hateful and incompetent party that has brought the nation to its current state.
He's forever tainted by it. And by his association with Junior Bush.
Post-script: Thank God! The conventions are over! Having been watching 2 solid weeks of this insanity on television, I am now ready and eager to turn away from politics for a time. But not for too long...only 61 days until the general....