Campaigns/Elections

McCain's Classy Concession

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Aside from the speech's almost astounding graciousness, note McCain's visceral disgust at the anti-Obama/Biden sentiments in the crowd. Sentiments he knows, on some basic level, that his campaign–especially the Sarah Palin wing of it–whipped up. As I mentioned in my column of this morning, McCain was extremely proud of the way he waged his campaign in 2000, and some important part of him must be flabbergasted that it was Barack Obama taking the comparative high ground this time around. McCain has always seen partisan politics as kind of dirty; to really compete on the presidential level, he convinced himself, he had to hold his nose, at least until the stench became too much to bear.

It's in that context that you should take in McCain's comment about Sarah Palin, that she's a "great campaigner." It played like a compliment to a ravenous Phoenix crowd that loved the Alaska governor much more than their own semi-native son. But coming from a man who chose his concession speech to make a forceful and moving address about race and unity in America, and who will no doubt be doing some serious soul-searching these next few weeks about the conduct of his failed campaign, it was probably more of an insult.

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  1. Why didn’t this McCain show up for the election?
    I’ve been annoyed at him for the past few months but that speech reminded me of the McCain I used to like. I really think Sarah Palin’s candidacy was the kiss of death for his campaign.

  2. I was genuinely impressed, and a little bit moved. I wasn’t expecting that. I hope he will keep his word about working directly with the president to unite America, and the Bush era will finally and truly be ended.

  3. Why didn’t this McCain show up for the election?

    I was thinking the same thing. You can say the same for the staff; for example, even the speechwriting was so much crisper and cleaner than the usual fare.

  4. Every time a candidate who’s run a terrible campaign concedes lately, that’s the reaction it gets. Gore in 2000, Kerry in 2004…I don’t remember a word of Dole’s speech in 1996, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was similar. Either it’s because they’re finally no longer speaking in a mode they’re terrible at, or because conciliatory speeches are a lot easier to write than convincing campaign material. Maybe both.

  5. Of course it was an excellent speech. He’s had several weeks to prepare it…

  6. McCain was a sacrificial candidate. Every Republican with two neurons to rub together knew that whoever ran as the Republican nominee this time was going to end up next to Walter Mondale on a milk carton.

    -jcr

  7. McCain’s speech didn’t surprise me in the least. He desperately wants to restore his good standing with the New York Times and the rest of the media now that he won’t be President.

  8. I really think Sarah Palin’s candidacy was the kiss of death for his campaign.

    Only one of 700 million other reasons.

    He had his chance…still nice concession speech.

  9. opps

    700 billion reasons….

    damnit!

  10. Yay! McCain is nice to the commie. So classy.

  11. Is there some political advantage to giving a non-classy concession speech? If not, why does he deserve praise?

  12. “Is there some political advantage to giving a non-classy concession speech? If not, why does he deserve praise?”

    Judging from the boos, at least part of his electorate would have preferred a race-baiting tirade damning the perfidious Arab, and his face-carving goons, terrorist pals, and ACORN registration fraudsters.

    Palin might have found such a speech more politically advantageous.

  13. A very classy speech from a very honorable man. One whom I would have been proud to have as my president. One whom I have set as an example from my sons to emulate. I thank you Mr Mccain.

  14. Governor Palin is to be congratulated for her wonderful efforts for the ticket. I look forward to seeing her run again on 2012 with governor Jindal of Louisiana.

  15. A classy speech made by a classy guy who can’t get a vote right in the Senate.

    His supporters at his concession speech were not so classy. They are the same type of crowd I’d expect to see at Wrestlemania.

    I really hate the GOP. 6 years in power and we’re left with nothing but a wave of Socialism for the next 8 years.

  16. nothing but a wave of Socialism for the next 8 years.

    That depends on how the next two years go, actually. Two years into the depression, Obama might lose enough senate seats for deadlock, which will let the market figure out how to work around the current level of government interference.

    I call it the Clinton effect: congress thwarts the president, the economy improves, and the president takes the credit.

    -jcr

  17. From Exit poll results

    Four in 10 voters overall said Palin was an important factor in deciding whom to vote for, and this group was about as likely to vote for Obama as McCain. But nine in 10 Republicans calling Palin’s selection important were voting for McCain.

    So, Palin was a net wash overall, but she energized the Republican base. Without her, I suspect that many Republican voters, never thrilled about McCain would have stayed at home and he would not have come as close to Obama as he did.

    This was a year that was going to be extremely difficult for any Republican to win. Yet McCain came within 5% of the popular vote. I am not especially fond of him, but this was creditable.

  18. He is being classy becuase he is worried about President B. Hussein Obama re-convening the 9-11 Commision.

  19. There was no honor or “class” here, just more fraudulent “sentimentality” from a fraudulent, defeated man.

    This could only be considered “classy” if it were taken totally OUT of context of the past several MONTHS worth of shit that McCain himself has been campaigning with.

    I would venture that he’s being “gracious” because he has an agenda… perhaps a party change (oh yes, he WOULD sink that low) in an attempt to gain a committee chairmanship or some other swot spot in the new administration.

  20. It *was* a classy speech. The lesson learned here is that when candidates go out of their way to reshape themselves to please the electorate, they lose. McCain’s attacks on the Obama campaign were like Gore’s lessons in charisma: neither worked.

    One can only wonder what the US would’ve been like had the Republicans had as much faith in McCain eight years ago as many Democrats and Independents (likely) did. (At least the ones I know.) He missed his moment.

  21. Adbul Alhazred | November 5, 2008, 2:25am | #
    I was genuinely impressed, and a little bit moved. I wasn’t expecting that. I hope he will keep his word about working directly with the president to unite America, and the Bush era will finally and truly be ended.

    FUCK THAT!

    United to what end? There was a Democrat running against a Democrat. Might as well elect the one that at least calls himself a Dem.

    I look for a strongly un united America.
    And I will be with the resistance thank you very much.

    Pretty much opposing whatever McCain and Obama are uniting behind.

  22. I was in Grant Park tonight, and when McCain was announced for his concession speech, he got a nice round of applause. I guess it’s easier to cheer for the guy when he’s lost, but still… quite the contrast from the boo’s at McCain’s speech. (But I, and those around me in the park, liked McCain’s speech. All in all, I think he’s good people.)

    And, as a flaming socialist, I sincerely hope that Palin runs in 2012, then 2016, then ad infinitum until she’s buried deep in the ground. She will fracture the Republican party so deeply that I do believe it will give rise to a viable third party. That woman was the best thing that has ever happened to the Democratic party.

  23. Man, the Democrats love McCain. No wonder so many real Republicans have been suspicious of him all along.

    The only decent thing he did was to pick Sarah Palin. Without here, this would have been a 60 to 40% thumping.

    I just lost respect for McCain for this gushing speech. He’s almost embraced the Communist Obama. Very bad move.

  24. Pretty much opposing whatever McCain and Obama are uniting behind.

    Couldn’t have put it better myself. Now, I suggest everyone pick up a copy of The Peter Principle, as we are about to see the concepts of that writ large. Come the first national crisis, little Barry the Bitch will be hiding under the desk somewhere and all they’ll find is a note on the door reading “Not Present” …

  25. HAs there ever been a non-magnimous concession speech? The closest I can recall was Al Gore telling George Bush that his brother was not the final authority on the election and not to get all snippy about Al withdrawing his concession.

    But after the Supreme Court Decision, Al took it like a man and gave a gracious speech.

  26. Why didn’t this McCain show up for the election?

    If the real McCain has still been alive in there this whole time, then why didn’t he pick a decent running mate and just be himself once the nomination was locked up and win the people who want the slightly less socialist candidate but are scared to death of Palin? Regardless of the infinite complaining they would do, the social right would still have voted for him just to keep Obama out.

  27. These were my thoughts exactly while watching the speech.
    If he were truly an honorable man, why did he allow himself to be pulled into such a nasty battle?
    Americans were clammoring for “honor” after 8 years of Bush, and he didn’t think it worth while to deliver it to them.

  28. @pete:A Palin/Jindal or Jindal/Palin ticket loses in 2012 like no Republican ever has before.

    So I guess I’m rooting for them to run too.

  29. great speech. Thank you Senator!

    Best to the President Elect

  30. It happens. As disappointed as I am right now, I myself have to do soul searching to find out where I, as a conservative, went wrong. It’s going to take the next 4 years for the Republican party to regain the trust of the American people again to be given another shot at the White House. And Gov. Palin? High shot she could be a contender in 2012, along with Mike Huckabee. Could it be: Palin/Huck ’12? Let’s hope!

  31. I thought it was an excellent speech from McCain. He said what needed to be said.

    I was very disheartened by the booing when McCain delivered lines praising Obama and acknowledging Obama’s love for this country. The GOP hardliners still don’t get it: they have spent several years telling us that anyone who disagrees with their policies isn’t truly American, despite the failure of those policies, and now, even after they get their heads handed to them in an election, they refuse to rethink that dogma.

  32. “Could it be: Palin/Huck ’12? Let’s hope!”

    I hope not! It was the religious right mentality that was starting to take over in the Republican Party in 1976 that led me to leaving it.

  33. “A Palin/Jindal or Jindal/Palin ticket loses in 2012 like no Republican ever has before.”

    It all depends on how the economy does under Obama. If Obama screws up the economy like some people believe he will, anybody the Republican Party runs will win.

  34. Sentiments he knows, on some basic level, that his campaign-especially the Sarah Palin wing of it-whipped up.

    Remember how he use to talk about catering to the southern bigots on the confederate flag thing was a big mistake that went against his values and cost him in election results? So this time around he repeats the same mistake and gets the same spanking. If America never hears from this old coot again, it will be too soon.

  35. “The GOP hardliners still don’t get it: they have spent several years telling us that anyone who disagrees with their policies isn’t truly American”

    Yeah, and that’s so much worse than democrats’ constant charges of racism, sexism, or hating the poor to anyone who disarees with them.

    And last I checked, it wasn’t republicans selling T-shirts calling one of the candidates a cunt.

  36. Man, the Democrats love McCain.

    Yeah, they are so smitten they forgot to vote for him.

    No wonder so many real Republicans have been suspicious of him all along.

    The “real” betrays, I suspect, a circularity: how do you tell that a Republican is a “real” Republican? Why, a real Republican will be suspicious of McCain. Well ain’t that just all tied up with a pretty bow!

    The only decent thing he did was to pick Sarah Palin.

    Yeah, but a lot of people had trouble understanding how choosing a woefully unqualified running mate jibes noncynically with the message of “Country First”.

    Without her, this would have been a 60 to 40% thumping.

    There’s no way to know this. There’s no way to even reasonably suspect this.

    I just lost respect for McCain for this gushing speech.

    And that is why you fail. –Yoda

    He’s almost embraced the Communist Obama.

    Perhaps you should learn what communism is before you use that word.

  37. No true Scotsman would vote for McCain!

  38. What NotThatDavid said really needed to be said.

  39. Classy speech.

    John McCain did exactly what John Kerry did. He allowed himself to be jammed into an ill-fitting persona, and thereby surrendered everything that made him an interesting candidate to begin with.

    McCain was never a comfortable fit with the thuggish kulturkampfer “Real Americans” who made up the base of his party, nor the low-road campaign that was designed to appeal to them. He couldn’t pull it off effectively – heck, he kept talking down lunatics at his rallies instead of whipping them up. They didn’t accept him as one of their own, and with good reason: he’s not.

    John McCain is the sort of person who gives a classy concession speech and calls for unity after he loses, and his supporters are the kind of people who boo when he does that, and he’s the kind of person who shoots them an exasperated look when they boo.

    Sort of sums it all up right there.

  40. DONDEROOOOOO!!!!!

    The only decent thing he did was to pick Sarah Palin. Without here, this would have been a 60 to 40% thumping.

    Unless, of course, he picked Mitt Romney. Then he would have had the only person with economic street cred and probably wins 52-48. Of course, this is from Eric “Guiliani Romney Palin is the real libertarian candidate” DONDEROOOOOO, so I don’t expect much.

  41. McCain is one of the worst politicians in the Senate. The reason he disdains “dirty” campaigning is because he’s so in love with himself and thinks it unpatriotic for the establishment to ever be questioned or criticized. Only a true cosmotarian could find honor in McCain’s self righteous, pro-state, “classiness”.

  42. No true Scotsman would vote for McCain!

    But they could donate to the Obama campaign.

  43. “And last I checked, it wasn’t republicans selling T-shirts calling one of the candidates a cunt.”

    The only Republican who calls women “cunts” is McCain himself as he called his wife that in public when she teased him about his baldness.

  44. “Without her, this would have been a 60 to 40% thumping.”

    She probably hurt him more than she helped him. People didn’t want to put an inexperienced airhead a heartbeat away from the presidency.

  45. “Unless, of course, he picked Mitt Romney. Then he would have had the only person with economic street cred and probably wins 52-48.”

    By picking Palin, he gave up a strong point of his, “experience”. Romney would have been a much better choice.

  46. “People didn’t want to put an inexperienced airhead a heartbeat away from the presidency.”

    Then why did Obama win?

    I’ll be here all week, folks.

  47. Obama might be inexperienced, but he isn’t the airhead that Palin is. An example of Palin’s airheadedness is her belief that God put dinosaurs on earth 4,000 years ago so that we could have gas for our pickup trucks and snow mobiles.

  48. John McCain did exactly what John Kerry did.

    Marry a rich bimbo and live off the money his father in law made?

    He allowed himself to be jammed into an ill-fitting persona, and thereby surrendered everything that made him an interesting candidate to begin with.

    Oh, that..

    -jcr

  49. McCain is one of the worst politicians in the Senate.

    Oh, so he has some redeeming qualities after all?

    -jcr

  50. Then why did Obama win?

    If you were to take a five-minute break from The Hannity, you would have noticed that he among other things studied political science and international relations at Columbia University, went to Harvard Law School (where he was an editor at the Harvard Law Review and was elected as its first black president and graduated magna cum laude), is a published author, and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for over a decade. Also, he is able to speak in complete sentences (unlike McCain, god bless him).

    Do people disagree with Obama’s policies? Sure. Is he an airhead? Nope.

  51. Overreact much? Man.

    Personally, I would think that believing that the Constitution is “fundamentally flawed” and being in favor of largely socialist economic policies qualifies one as an airhead, but hey! That’s just me.

    For the record, I wasn’t a McCain supporter either. I voted for him, but my only choices were him and Obama, so it was a choice for the slightly lesser of two evils.

  52. John McCain did exactly what John Kerry did. He allowed himself to be jammed into an ill-fitting persona, and thereby surrendered everything that made him an interesting candidate to begin with.

    Interesting parallel.

  53. Overreact much? Man.

    Man, indeed. All I did was argue against your claim by presenting a little evidence to the contrary. How that is an overreaction you’ll have to explain.

    Personally, I would think that believing that the Constitution is “fundamentally flawed” and being in favor of largely socialist economic policies qualifies one as an airhead, but hey! That’s just me.

    Yes, I think it is. But at least you admit it. You have a very peculiar sense of what “airhead” means (and what socialism is).

  54. “If you were to take a five-minute break from The Hannity, you would have noticed”

    This is what I was referring to as an overreaction. I said a joke that dared to mock The One, and I got a knee-jerk insult in return. I haven’t paid attention to Hannity for like four years.

  55. Personally, I would think that believing that the Constitution is “fundamentally flawed” and being in favor of largely socialist economic policies qualifies one as an airhead, but hey! That’s just me.

    So, when you refer to “airhead,” it has nothing to do with intellectual capacity or competence, but is a just a term of derision for people with political ideas unlike your own.

    Yeah, weer al just stoopid.

  56. Had McCain spoken like this all along (and picked a less-stupid VP candidate), he might’ve had a chance of winning. But I’m glad the GOP got the drubbing it deserves. And while I don’t expect great things from our new President Obama, after the last eight years of Bush a president who’s merely fair-to-middling sounds pretty damned good to me.

  57. Holding political views unlike my own doesn’t necessarily make one stupid. But if you hold stupid political views, then that does say something about whether or not you’re stupid yourself.

  58. If he were truly an honorable man, why did he allow himself to be pulled into such a nasty battle?

    Reinmoose, were you born yesterday? Presidential campaigns have always been nasty. Politics ain’t beanbag, and all that.

  59. I said a joke that dared to mock The One, and I got a knee-jerk insult in return. I haven’t paid attention to Hannity for like four years.

    Oh, so it was just a joke? So are we to assume that your seemingly serious defenses of the claim that Obama is an airhead were also jokes? “I was just joking”–the last refuge of the refuted.

    (Incidentally, I don’t think Obama is “The One.” I simply think him leaps and bounds better than McCain.)

    Also, I think you are smart enough to realize that the particular right-wing news source is irrelevant to my quip. Hannity, Rush, Fox News, LGF, whatever–the point is you must have been getting your info about Obama from some severely biased source to think he is an airhead.

    Some very smart people think that Bush’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy were bad public policy. Neither you nor I are in any position to call any of them stupid.

  60. Here’s what I said:

    “Then why did Obama win?

    I’ll be here all week, folks.”

    See that second sentence there? “I’ll be here all week, folks”? Pretty strongly indicates a joke.

    You took it seriously.

    Now, “airhead” was not my word. That was in the post I riffed on. Wouldn’t really have been my first choice, but you work with what you’ve got. Given this shitstorm here I’m wishing I hadn’t made that post at all. It wasn’t funny enough to be worth all of this.

    “I simply think him leaps and bounds better than McCain.)”

    How? Obama is a massive statist. McCain’s not a WHOLE lot better, granted, but he is better in a number of areas. And at least if McCain had won, we’d have some political gridlock as the result of having a republican president and a democrat congress. But now the whole thing’s controlled by democrats.

    “Some very smart people think that Bush’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy were bad public policy.”

    Um, okay. So?

  61. Gotta love the delusional Right fringe that thinks Sarah Palin will ever be a player on the national stage again. Most of America saw her exactly for what she was, a know-nothing fraud who refused to admit she didn’t know anything.

  62. Well, tekende, I thought you could put two and two together. I guess not. My point was that very smart people have views that you or I might think are stupid. Thus…(man, do I really have to spoon-feed all this to you?) the fact that you think someone’s views are stupid does not imply that the person is stupid.

    Pretty strongly indicates a joke.

    And your serious defense of the claim that Obama is an airhead strongly indicates that you believe that claim. Are you saying now that you do not? Or are you just saying that you would prefer “stupid” over “airhead” to describe Obama? If so, what’s the relevant difference again?

    How? Obama is a massive statist.

    Not true. He will be far less of a statist than Clinton was, and we all got through those horrible prosperous times okay. In addition, I would argue that we were freer under Clinton than under Bush, and that McCain would have been very close to Bush in terms of civil liberties.

  63. I was hoping that McCain would end his speech with…

    “And so, my friends, I offer this laurel and hardy handshake to our new… president.”

  64. I like it, OverKiller.

    I also think Obama should have said, at the event where he announced the Joe Biden would be his running mate, “He’s bright, he’s articulate, he’s good-looking…”

  65. Joe,

    Kudos to your 9:50am post. I thought it good enough to quote on the local paper’s blog.

  66. How can you describe someone who promotes mass murder (war) as “classy”?

    Question from a Obama non-voter and a McCain non-voter.

  67. There was a time when I respected John McCain, there was a time when I believed this man to be an honorable man, there was a time when I would have happily voted for this man; however those days and that man have virtually disappeared from reality.

    What has replaced him is a shabby and vulgar counterfeit of a once respectable man who cannot win back my respect with 5 minutes of pretty words in a concession speech.

    I am quite sorry, but the man that was McCain, is long gone, forgotten and replaced with someone who should be ashamed of their conduct.

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