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The Convention of 'Hope' ... er 'Change'
September 5, 2008 - Bill Ackerbauer
Last week, I hinted that I thought Barack Obama's nomination-acceptance speech was an exceptional bit of political oratory, so you might expect me to follow through now with a reaction to John McCain's speech last night. I'm afraid it wouldn't be fair for me to comment on it, however, because I fell asleep about half-way through it. I'm not saying McCain is old, stodgy and boring, but ... well, let's just say I had a long day at work and I couldn't keep my eyes open.
The short biographical film that introduced McCain focused intensively on his experience as a POW in Vietnam. I know this time in his life sets him apart from the rest of us mere mortals and makes him a regular "profile in courage," but the tone of the presentation seemed more grim than uplifting. One scene that must have been an attempt to draw laughs featured McCain's 96-year-old mother calling him a "mama's boy." It came off more creepy than funny, at least to me.
Overall, the MCain flick seemed kind of awkwardly put-together compared to the film last week on his Democratic opponent. I guess Obama's campaign must have found somebody from their party who knows something about movies and theatricality (I can't imagine where they found a liberal (or progressive, or whatever) Democratic filmmaker.)
Anyway, about 15 minutes into McCain's speech, I dozed off right there on the couch. I was jolted awake around the time the ballons dropped, though, and for a moment I was so disoriented, I had to look around to figure out which of my seventeen houses I was in. And then I really woke up and remembered I only have one. (It's a nice enough place, though by the time my wife and I pay off the mortgage, I'm sure several women will have been elected president already. Oprah in 2016?)
I flipped the channel to see what the pundits on Fox News would say. (You'll recall I was expecting some cheesy sports metaphors.) I was disappointed that I didn't hear anybody say he "threw a Hail Mary pass" or anything. The reactions, even from Weekly Standard-type conservatives, seemed to be focused on a few key aspects of the speech: 1) McCain is not as gifted a public speaker as Obama; 2) Sarah Palin's speech the night before may have stolen some of McCain's thunder; and 3) everybody was suprised that McCain levelled some criticism at his own party and its shortcomings of the last several years. I was sorry to have slept through that part, you can be sure.
Before I fell asleep, I think I heard McCain talk about "CHANGE" a few times, intoning it like a mantra the way Obama and his folks have been chanting "HOPE." No matter who becomes the next prez, I HOPE he does something about this lousy economy, or else a lot more of us will be on the street begging for CHANGE.
I've always liked what Utah Phillips had to say about the presidency:
"I have studied the presidency carefully; I have seen that our best presidents were the do-nothing presidents: Millard Fillmore, Warren G. Harding. When you have a president who does things, we are all in serious trouble. If he does anything at all -- if he gets up at night to go to the bathroom -- somehow, mystically, trouble will ensue. I guarantee that if I am elected, I will take over the White House, hang out, shoot pool, scratch my ass, and not do a damn thing. Which is to say, if you want something done, don't come to me to do it for you; you got to get together and figure out how to do it yourselves. Is that a deal?"
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