The Rhetoric of Change

It's hard to see through two weeks of political convention caused exhaustion to know if John McCain's big speech will have any appreciable and lasting impact on polls and votes come November.

His speech was as poorly delivered as possible and I know that I'm simply tired of his genuinely awe-inspiring war bio. It's a tremendous story, but also one that seems less and less connected to the current day, much less a leading indicator of what sort of president he'd be (reason's Matt Welch has done a fantastic job in McCain: The Myth of a Maverick and elsewhere of documenting the senator's actual legislative record, and it's not a pretty picture for those of us who care about individual liberty and freedom). McCain's speech had bits in it that I liked (hearing a presidential candidate talk up school choice, even if you don't believe the feds should be involved in education, is pretty good; it was good to hear a pol actually stand up for free trade too), but he really leaves me cold with the emphasis on service and communitarian-type ideals.

Conventions are horribly scripted and tedious events. Still, I'm actually interested in seeing the upcoming debates, both between Barack Obama and John McCain and between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. From a purely spectacular perspective, there are interesting and new characters in play and should make good viewing, especially if they ever get around to talking about policy rather than biography.

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  • ||

    His speech was as poorly delivered as possible...

    yeah, I kept thinking, didn't Herr McCain at least practice his pre-written (a redundancy, I know) speech?

  • ||

    Debates should be.

    Obama vs. 'Barracuda' on the basketball court and Biden vs. McCain in a Wii Bowling contest contest.

    Those two alone would tell me more than a debate that is usually just as scripted.

  • ||

    Well it is going to be pretty boring until the debates.

    what is going to happen until then is that the MSM, whatever the hell that is, is going to try to find every "gotchya" moment they can find with Palin even though they have decades of moments that they could find between biden and Herr McCain. I would like to know more about Herr McCain's involvement in the S&L scandal of the later 1980's but we will probably hear more about how Palin served salmon instead of clam chowder at some sunday brunch.

    And I would like the MSM to expose Biden for the authoritarian douchebag that he is and expose Herr McCain for that travesty of freedom called McCain-FeinGold... but they won't.

  • ||

    I'm simply tired of his genuinely awe-inspiring war bio.

    The only thing missing was the Viagra commercial.

  • unawed||

    "I'm simply tired of his genuinely awe-inspiring war bio. It's a tremendous story,...".

    What? He crashed three planes (once hitting some power lines) before he went to Vietnam and was then shot down on only his 23rd mission. That's not too awe inspiring.

  • gmatts||

    The best part of the speech was when McCain said the line "Teach an illiterate adult to read", which I believe was just after he suggested his bold policy initiative of imploring American citizens to help old ladies cross the street. About 5 seconds after that comment the cameras (I was watching the NBC feed) cut to an adult holding a sign that read "MAVRICK!".

    As for the debates, I can't wait to find out how long Biden can go until he begins a response to Palin with either "Listen, doll..." or "You're a cute kid, but...".

  • ||

    His speech was as poorly delivered as possible

    Not really. I have no use for McCain, but his speech was decently delivered.

  • Jim Hu||

    His speech was as poorly delivered as possible
    What? You missed the previous speakers?

    However, I'd agree if you said
    the video backgrounds were as poorly delivered as possible.

  • ||

    It's a tremendous story ...
    Maybe I just don't get it.
    McCain takes advanced assignments because his dad is a big shot; gets shot down before he learns how to use an ejection seat (thus, breaking both arms); gets saved from drowning by the people he's been bombing; writes a half-dozen confessions to war crimes; violates standing orders to escape (or accept release) so he can return to the battle; and then he runs an airforce dent shop in Florida for less than year.
    Now, exactly what in that story qualifies him to run anything?

  • ||

    Maybe they had Ridge and Giuliani speak before McCain so he'd look good by comparison.

    Loved the green screen.

  • ||

    Ha ha, suckers! I didn't watch, so I wasn't bored shitless. I win!

  • Potts||

    The "Mavrick" moment was classic!

    I was just left confused by the suggestion that I go out, fight for what's right, and volunteer in my community, when just 24 hours earlier community volunteerism was being sneered at.

  • ||

    "but he really leaves me cold with the emphasis on service and communitarian-type ideals."

    I wish someone would explain to Reason and Megan McCardle what martial values are. When McCain talks about national service it talks about the need for people to do what they want and to dedicate themselves to something larger. He never talks about national service in terms of compulsion.

    There is nothing voluntary about martial values. As a warrior, you don't get to choose. You do as your are ordered. Not all things communitarian or even national service related are martial in nature. There is nothing martial about things you control and volunteer for or do on your own.

    A good example of martial values is Obama's plan to make high school and college students have to do government sponsored community service. Everyone going down and joining a government organization and doing as they are told, that is martial. All that is missing is the uniforms and weapons. That is martial and collective virtue applied to peaceful ends. Singing the praises of national service and telling people to go out and help old ladies accross the street is not martial nor particually comunitarian. It is just feel good rethoric. You may not like it, but I don't see how you can say that someone outwighs being committed to free trade. It is not like Obama doesn't talk about the same things and also want to shut off free trade as a bonus.

  • ||

    Troy, you need to lay off Joe Biden. At least according to a letter in today's paper:
    "Joe Biden is a prince and he is a servant, a true public servant. Through all his life he has risen above himself in his concern for everyone. His pure heart, his brilliant mind, his vast knowledge and experience in foreign policy.. This is it - the ticket of a lifetime - two men with pure hearts and brilliant minds." I almost puked up my cornflakes.

  • Seward||

  • ||

    Conventions are horribly scripted and tedious events.

    Nick, did you miss the Libertarian Party quadrennial cat herding event? ;-)

  • ||

    Obama's never proposed compulsory national service.

    I'd sure like to see a Republican say he's against the draft for a reason stronger than "the military doesn't want it right now" or "it's not practical."

  • JMR||

    If the LP managed to script a convention for once, I wonder if it'd be as boring as the 'major' parties' conventions these days? Perhaps there's a happy medium, but this is politics so I doubt it, and the media wouldn't cover it anyway.

  • Elemenope||

    Ha ha, suckers! I didn't watch, so I wasn't bored shitless. I win!

    We get to win together. I was at Applebee's with some friends, and they had on the RNC muted in the background *in the sports bar*. We all gave thanks that the sound was off. BTW, with just the pictures to go on, the convention was beyond creepy.

    My thing is, I saw dribs and drabs of the DNC due to my S.O. being a Democrat, and they actually had people who could speak. They weren't saying much that I liked, but at least their diction and elocution didn't cause me physical pain.

  • ||

    "Expand Service-Learning in Our Nation's Schools: Obama will set a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year. He will develop national guidelines for service- learning and will give schools better tools both to develop programs and to document student experience. Green Job Corps: Obama will create an energy-focused youth jobs program to provide disadvantaged youth with service opportunities weatherizing buildings and getting practical experience in fast-growing career fields. "


    http://www.barackobama.com/issues/service/#service-learning

    The goal is for all middle and high school students to do 50 hours of community service a year? How exactly does he plan to meet that goal when there are millions of freedom loving Americans who will tell him to pound sand and leave my 12 year old alone? It is either meaningless or it is compulsive.

    That is totally different than McCain throwing out a few lines encouraging people to serve. Obama has a plan basically to draft our children. At least the old draft waited until they were 18. Never too young to re-educate I guess.

  • ||

    Read that guys. Your kids will have a choice, serve in some socialist bullshit organization and get brainwashed or flunk out of school. I hope you people are ready to homeschool, assuming that is still legal.

  • Seward||

    John,

    What do you think of the text I qouted above.

    As for Obama's statement, first, the Green Jobs Corp thing looks about about as voluntary as AmeriCorps is.

    As for the "goal" point, yeah, its a goal, that comes with "guidelines," and not a requirement.

    I'm not trying to defend Obama's plan, but his statements don't sound all that different to me than those made by McCain.

  • ||

    We get to win together. I was at Applebee's with some friends

    You can't win at Applebee's. In fact, you lose. It's as bad as Olive Garden.

  • ||

    "What do you think of the text I qouted above."

    I think the idea of having a goal of all middle school kids doing 50 hours of community service a year is creepy and downright fascistic. The fascists and communists always come for your kids. Who do think will be running those programs? Every leftwing, authoritarian nutcase who needs a goverment job. "Green Corps"? I gaurentee you that lesson number 1 will how to inform on your parents for their green crimes.

    Fuck Obama and the horse he road in on. I don't want my 13 year old out working for the man. Kids need to be kids. They get too much bullshit liberal indoctrination as it is. They don't need to get 50 hours more enslaved to the state.

    I can't beleive libertarians are not horrified by this idea. If Reason wasn't so in the tank for Obama, they would be having a fit. I gaurentee you if McCain proposed it, Welch would be writing another book.

  • ||

    People aren't shitting their pants, John (at least me), because it's never going to happen. So there's nothing to worry about. Yeah, it's disgusting bullshit, but it's just talk.

  • Old timer||

    Brown Shirts for sale !! Be the first in your neighborhood !!

  • Seward||

    John,

    I think the idea of having a goal of all middle school kids doing 50 hours of community service a year is creepy and downright fascistic.

    No, again, the text that I quoted above. What do you think about it?

    Fuck Obama and the horse he road in on.

    Sure, fine. That gives me no reason whatsoever to vote for McCain of course.

    I can't beleive libertarians are not horrified by this idea.

    I don't like the idea. I'm not quite sure why that should make me want to vote for McCain.

  • SIV||

    He also depicted leftist community organizing as a harder task than similar efforts by the Christian Right, telling a reporter in 1995 that "it's always easier to organize around intolerance, narrow-mindedness and false nostalgia."

  • Seward||

    John,

    I'm curious to know what you think of the No Child Left Behind Act?

  • ||

    "Obama will set a GOAL that ALL middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year."

    What part of that is so hard to understand. It is creepy bullshit. As far as it not happening, Obama + a filabuster proof Senate. Democratic activists love this kind of shit. It is both a jobs program for leftist deadbeats and a way to brainwash kids. What is not to love? McCain says we should help old ladies cross the street and everyone has a cow. Obama has a plan to draft our minor children to work for the government and no one seems to care.

  • ||

    "I'm curious to know what you think of the No Child Left Behind Act?"

    If it involves drafting kids to work for the government, I hate it. But, last I heard it didn't. Further, it was drafted by Ted Kennedy, so I would think the Obamabots love it.

  • ||

    John, it would get challenged in court and beaten like a red-headed stepchild. I'm just not worried.

  • Seward||

    John,

    McCain says we should help old ladies cross the street and everyone has a cow.

    Actually, McCain wrote this:

    While it is not currently politically practical to revive the draft...

    This begs the question, what if it were currently politically practical" to do so? I will note that one of the things that libertarians can rightly praise themselves for is that they help rid the U.S. of the draft.

  • ||

    What part of that is so hard to understand.

    The part where "setting a goal" is the a synonym for "establishing mandatory service."

    That's the part that nobody except you seems to understand, John.

  • ||

    "I'm curious to know what you think of the No Child Left Behind Act?"

    If it involves drafting kids to work for the government, I hate it.


    It sets all sorts of goals, John. Still no draft, you might have noticed.

    Hysterical much?

  • ||

    McCain says we should help old ladies cross the street and everyone has a cow. Obama has a plan to draft our minor children to work for the government and no one seems to care.

    Maybe it has something to do with there being a long history of having a military draft - you know, that thing John McCain talks about wistfully, if only it were practical - while every single one of the service programs similar to what Obama is talking about (Peace Corps, Americorps) have been completely voluntary.

  • ||

    Some schools already require community service of their students. I don't see any important difference between teaching kids how to balance their checkbook and giving them hands-on training in weatherizing buildings. I think it would be great to get the kids out of the schools as part of their education for something other than sports. I think that part of the problem with modern education is that the kids are so divorced from the community at large.

    Teaching kids that they are part of a community and that they have responsibilities--wow, what a terrible lesson.

    There is nothing fascist or authoritarian about the idea of requiring students to perform community service, unless there is something fascist or authoritarian about the very idea of compulsory education in the first place.

  • ||

    "There is nothing fascist or authoritarian about the idea of requiring students to perform community service, unless there is something fascist or authoritarian about the very idea of compulsory education in the first place."

    Not from around here, eh Ethan...There are people here who think the Census is overly authoritarian...

  • Anonymoose.||

    Episiarch | September 5, 2008, 11:53am | #
    John, it would get challenged in court and beaten like a red-headed stepchild. I'm just not worried.

    Why aren't you worried? It says volumes about what Obama thinks this country should be and what role the government should play in the lives of citizens. Just because it won't end up happening doesn't make it less scary.

  • ||

    Some schools already require community service of their students.

    And the ones that do don't actually draft our minor children to work for the government, but generally let them find a private charity or volunteer group of their choosing.

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