In the days and weeks and years before his speech last night, John McCain's thoughts must have been something like the following:
All right, I'm a genuine all-American hero--EVERYBODY agrees with that [me too]. Why isn't that enough to be President? All that coinage I collected in Vietnam seems to have lost its currency since I cashed it in for the Senate. Lost its luster. The American people still owe me, though, because I can't really bring up my years in the Republican-controlled Congress, or my votes on the War, or domestic programs--we didn't HAVE any. Need to steer clear of that anyway, for fear of reminding people of the "Keating Five" (of which I was one) scandal and the billions-of-dollars S&L bust. Jimmy Carter, a usually well-meaning man and fellow navy-guy, said the other week that being a war-hero doesn't qualify one to be President. He's right, of course, despite what some of my supporters say, but it's all I got. OK: eight sentences for my 25 years in Washington, forty-three sentences for my 6 years in Vietnam. The rest, I'll tell my speech-writers, pad with Republican platitudes and promises, and fill in with FIGHT metaphors of one kind or another, because, you know...I'm a WARRIOR.
No, I didn't listen to the speech; read it instead. I don't blame him overmuch--surely he looks back on those POW days fondly, when his heroism was "innocent"... really...unsullied by the dross of cash-and-carry politics. But I guess he felt he had to try the hard-sell again. How much better would his speech have been (and I've given and judged not-a-few as a veteran Toastmaster) had he begun NOT with this:
I don't mind a good fight....had quite a few tough ones... and then go on about fighting for certain constituencies (Fight, fight, fight.... But how?) and later back again to his time in Vietnam--BUT RATHER with something like:
Look, I'm a fighter. A Vietnam vet. Former POW. You've all heard probably too much about all that. So let's put past history aside on this important night, and talk about the future. One thing is sure, though--put your minds at rest-- you know I'll wage HOLY WAR all the way to the White House, dammit! [cheers] But THEN...so empowered...it will be time to really DO THINGS for this country. Here are some of the foreign and domestic programs I intend to present to Congress...
Trouble is...he ain't got no programs to talk about, and he ain't got no Congress to give 'em to...anymore.