The following is what the speech was not.
Soaring oratory. Biting and pithy. Eloquent. A straight up partisan speech. Humorous. A perfect speech.
To me, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Here is what McCain’s speech was; a good speech where he achieved his goals and provided a good foundation for the next two months. His goals were the following; to divorce himself from George Bush and the failures of the Republican Party and provide a narrative that is not just “I was a POW.”
Halfway through the speech John McCain confessed to the failures of the Republican Party and sought to distance himself from it. “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. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.”
This was greeted with dead silence by the convention and was a decisive break from the party. Even Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann saw it as such, so it is ludicrous to think that Senator McCain “lacked the guts” to break from the party.
As for adding in the “policy” issues after his concluding story, I think this demonstrates why Brian won’t be a political speech writer anytime soon. The point of the story was to describe his evolution from a me-first young kid to a country first individual. You do not clutter up the message by tacking on some heavy handed policy positions. I think he effectively told a story that described his theme of country first, explained his personal connection to that theme, and conveyed it effectively. Yeah, it was a POW story again, but when you have an event like that, that is that important in your development, it bears repeating. It wasn’t just repeating “I was a POW,” but it described how he was broken and vulnerable and a lot of the less pleasant aspects of his imprisonment.
As for people like Brian being bored, I am not overly concerned because he isn’t indicative of the target audience. Brian prefers the high flying oratory of Senator Obama, and Senator McCain didn’t try to do that. Besides, Brian is dedicated to Senator Obama, so there is nothing McCain could have said that would have impressed him. This deliberate decision to not attempt eloquent oratory is a good thing, because any attempt to do that would be a pale imitation and make Senator McCain look desperate.
Instead Senator McCain tried to have a conversation with the American people. Those that were disinclined to listen because they already decided who they were going to vote for probably found the speech boring because Senator McCain didn’t grab their attention. Those that were interested in what he had to say because they were undecided probably found it a bit dry, but thought there was more content in it. I find it unlikely that the speech made up the independents collective mind, but I think it provided inroads for them to listen to Senator McCain more down the road.
Anyway, time will tell. I think the bounces will cancel each other out and at the end of the day (that day being Tuesday or so, once all the tracking polls cycle through), the race will still be close, if not a statistical tie. Everyone will pause and catch their breath and wait until the end of the month. All these conventions will do is hype up the excitement and attention that this election will garner; something I thought before the elections was impossible.