The Marc Steiner Show

Yes He Can! The Moving Acceptance Speech of John McCain, by Richard Vatz

From RedMaryland;


John McCain gave a powerful acceptance speech tonight, devoid of artificial drama and devoid of gimmicks. More on that later.

Leading up to his speech was a moving tribute by his wife Cindy, a tribute which left no one in doubt about the genuineness of their union and both of their commitments to public service.

Preceding that address was a specific appeal which this critic found tremendously convincing.

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The Senator from South Carolina, Sen. Lindsay Graham, made a clear, unambiguous focus of this convention the one available operational definition of the difference in military policies between John McCain and Barack Obama: the “Surge” in Iraq.

Sen. Graham said simply “The Surge has worked.” He cited Sen. McCain as the politician who led the fight to support Gen. Petraeus and his successful war strategy, while Sen. Obama and the Democrats almost succeeded – and came within 2 votes – in de-funding the war. The Democratic Senator who was the difference, according to Graham? Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has been threatened with political retaliation from his own Democratic Party for criticizing Sen. Obama as callow.

Sen. Graham convincingly argued that the “Surge” was a critical milestone in the war against terror, for its loss, about which Sen. Obama and the Democrats appeared to be sanguine, would have led to an al Qaeda success and the loss of any United States military credibility in the war against terror.

Devastatingly, Sen. Graham referenced the frequent iterations of Sen. Obama of how he “appreciates” the United States military, characterizing such protestations as disingenuous and “playing politics with our national security.”

His conclusion? Sen. Obama is a man who loves his country, but one who just “doesn’t get it.”

The lengthy but memorable acceptance address by Senator John McCain was the last speech of the convention, of course.

His appeal to conservatives already seemingly solidified through his Vice Presidential nominee, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, he seemed to focus on centrists of both parties and independents, a natural historic constituency of his.

Sen. McCain, amid constant – sometimes too interruptingly constant – cheers of “U-S-A;U-S-A,” pledged to be an active President whose primary missions would be to restore fiscal discipline, return prosperity and keep the country safe.

He pledged an honorable-but-tough campaign against a formidable opponent, Sen. Obama, whom he would not demonize, but also from whom he would not shrink from criticizing.

Assuring his audience that he picked the “right partner,” Gov. Palin, perfect in substance, vision and style [but lacking foreign policy credentials and knowledge to deal with the resurgent imperial Russia described to be on his radar during his presidency, as well as the continuing threat of al Qaeda], he pledged to fight prolific spenders, corrupt politicians and promised to make public the names of legislators supporting pork barrel spending. He pledged to stop the hemorrhaging from our treasury monies that go to potential foreign enemies who sell us oil. These arguments may work to, as the Senator implied, expropriate the concept of “change” for the Republican Party.

Sen. McCain’s signature line that he would rather “lose an election than lose a war” was detailed in his support of the “Surge,” a successful military tactic that he claimed believably may lead to an indisputable victory in the Iraq War. The Surge, he argued, as have all major speakers in the Republican Convention, was opposed by Sen. Obama and the Democrats in general and to this day has not been acknowledged as a military success. This was a major reason cited by Sen. McCain of his needed stewardship of the United States military and foreign policy. In a series of rousing rhetorical contrasts of public policy differences, Sen. McCain crystallized the powerful differences between Sen. Obama and hinself.

Sen. McCain reassured the country that he “hates war” because he has experienced war, and he took us through some of his experience as a P.O.W. to show the power of fellowship.

He ended his speech with a powerful crescendo of “Fight,” “Fight” and “Fight” for America…

When the ethos of the speaker is consistent with the message, a long speech does not disappoint; it energizes, and the convention hall and presumably most Republicans and maybe even most Reagan Democrats who witnessed this powerful address were excited by the rhetoric of “change,” the \Republican\ rhetoric of change.

Professor Richard E. Vatz teaches Political Rhetoric at Towson University

Written by Marc Steiner

Marc Steiner

The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday thru Friday from 10AM to Noon on WEAA 88.9 FM. The show covers the topics that matter, engaging real voices, from Charm City to Cairo and beyond. Call us at 410.319.8888 or email us to participate live in the show, or share your comments on our site! Aren’t in Baltimore but want to listen? Stream the show live.


  1. Count, Not very sound economic principles in your response. Furthermore, why so angry? Do you debate frequently with personal attacks and insult the amount of makeup on your opponents? Please, if you enter the discussion, stay above the personal stuff and attempt to be factual. While I have many differences with the Clinton years I do recognize what an amazing politician he is. So I admire his abilities in those areas and appreciate that he was able to lead our country during such a prosperous time. Morally, economically and socially he was/is a disaster.
    Let’s get a few things corrected here.
    1. Clinton inherited an economy from Bush I that was shrinking by the time he left office 8 years later. That is indisputable.
    2. Exactly what did Clinton implement that led to the explosion which was largely responsible for the economic growth during at least 6 of his 8 years?
    3. Given that most economists agree that the slow economy began as early as 1999 and no later than 2000, add to that an attack on a major financial center in our country, a wartime expense, the correction of the housing/credit/financial markets and it is a small miracle that this country is anywhere close to solvent.
    4. If you are searching for an index of prosperity, how’s this. We have not had an attack on this country in 7 years, our brave men and women in the military continue to look for terrorists and their leaders while helping to transfer power back to the leaders in Iraq.
    5. If those don’t work you could always look at the index of our Congressional leaders (Pelosi, Reed, Dodd). My guess is they would say they have prospored beyond their wildest dreams under President Busy….albeit illegally.

    So get comfortable with your hate of all things Republican. Admit that even if McCain or anyone else outside of your thinking sphere cured cancer, you would criticize the death of the lab animals in the process.

  2. Everything McCain said he favored or would strive for was contradicted by his voting record or the part of the convention that preceded his speech. I was intrigued, however, by his rhapsodic incantation of RNC talking points about the economy and its prospects under a McCain administration. If we could have seen his skin through the 0.25 inch of pancake makeup, I’ll bet we would have seen him turn nearly incandescent with glorioski.

    Spelunking the inet, I see that the Dow Jones Index closed Friday at about 11,221. On January 22, 2001, the DJI closed at 10,578 for an increase to date of about 6%. The DJI increased about 327% during Clinton’s terms, but hey. Everything is relative to you rhetoricians, right? Perhaps you can think of something that makes a 6% increase compare favorably to a 327% increase.

    For example, I note that we have incurred 24% inflation since the Bushman ascended to first chair. 24% inflation compared to a 6% DJI increase is great, right?

    No, not really. I’m glad that a good chunk of my retirement money has been in a money market fund since 2000. Performance of the American economy can be measured in many different ways, but I have not been able to unearth any index that shows that the last 8 years of Republican misrule have been beneficial. Any nitwit airhead gasbag that thinks we have prospered should be statutorily prohibited from coming closer than 500 yards to the White House.

    Listen up, dear Richard. Dragging his mom around to vouch for him worked twice for George W. Bush, but it won’t work for John McCain.

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