A Speech for the Ages

After watching the acceptance speech by Senator McCain tonight, I was somewhat surprised to find how tepid the reaction was by bloggers at the various conservative sites I visit. While I recognized that the moderate policies that he promoted were not the red meat that had been offered up the previous night, the story that he presented was still very moving and authentic.

As I thought on this further, maybe it is something that comes with age. The majority of those of us who blog (including myself, at the tender number of 27 years) are too young to have known real suffering and deprivation. The man spent five and a half years living at the whim of another. Maybe we know this story better, but I don’t think America did.

It is a sad truth how little is actually known about the people running for public office. We have Presidents who will shape policy impacting the whole world, and the disappointing reality is that had the football game run long, the speech would have necessarily been delayed. Our generation is so immured in information, we lose sight of the moment and the lasting.

John McCain is not a great orator. He does not master rhetorical flourishes, and he does not need to do so. Instead, what he gave tonight was something that called to something deeper. He spoke of service and sacrifice, and he has lived a lifetime to prove this. He spoke to an America that believed in itself not as ideologies, but as ideas. He spoke to what was best about us, culminating in a strong finish.

I won’t pretend that I like all of his policies; I don’t. This speech wasn’t needed for me. But, as I sat and considered it, I thought about what a sixty year old, who is going to vote, and who might not have heard this before might have thought. You have a slick lawyer on one hand, promising hope and redemption, caught in glitter and glam. Then, you have our candidate: a simpler man, a soldier who can’t find the best words always, but somehow still managed to have his heart in the right place.

Ideologues had made their decision before tonight. But if you were someone voting character, and you measure these two men against one another, tonight taught you something. It is that Republicans can be proud of their candidate, and amidst the cynicism and strategy, that moment of pride is something we should not overlook.

I think this speech played better than people will think specifically because it was not lofty rhetoric. It was real. Sarah was too. Together, these two might just be able to accomplish what seemed impossible: prevent America from the disaster that would be Barack Obama.