John McCain Impressed Last Night — His Crowd Did Not


We are going to learn a lot in coming weeks, months, and years about the drivers that pushed John McCain in certain directions that undermined his presidential campaign. Sarah Palin is the biggest of these mysteries.
But last night, I give McCain a great deal of credit for embracing the notion that this is a historic moment and that the nation has embraced the transformational promise of Barack Obama.
I thought Senator McCain was at his old best last night — and he moved me with statements like “Barack Obama has been inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.”
It was a gracious and magnanimous concession speech, but McCain had an ugly audience. And we need to remember that there are many in America who are not swept up in this moment and who may try to stand in the way of progress.
One of the interesting things I noted in McCain’s posture last night was a quick acknowledgment and dismissal of Sarah Palin. He basically said she would do well “in Alaska.” He hugged her quickly, shook Todd’s hand fast — and departed as fast as he could away from them off the other side of the stage. He didn’t stand with them at all, at least as I saw this on television.
But she won’t fade from the scene.
— Steve Clemons


24 comments on “John McCain Impressed Last Night — His Crowd Did Not

  1. hannah says:

    One more jarring thing from his speech – this is
    not an event that African-Americans alone can be
    proud of. This is an event in which we can all
    take pride. That line alone said to me just how
    much he doesn’t get what just steamrolled him.


  2. The skepTick says:

    Disagree on Palin’s fading from the scene. I think she will. The track record on presidential bids by former vice presidential candidates is poor. She’s in our memory for now, but as the Republican party tries to find the branding that will resonate with future voters, Palin will be seen as part of the current failure and she won’t be asked to come back lest memories of the Bush administration be dredged up again.


  3. via says:

    I didn’t find his speech particularly gracious, it seemed forced and to conceal anger underneath. Palin appeared uncharacteristically subdued, even nervous. McCain didn’t attempt to cover his almost palpable dislike of the Dude, treating him with more discourtesy and disdain than he did Obama in the debates. Did Cindy even shake hands with either of the Palin’s? She and John couldn’t exit the stage quickly enough.


  4. thetruth says:

    John McCain is a spoiled, self-indulgent man who was fundametally ill-equipped to be president.
    He is angry, mean-spirited and highly partisan. His moves on foreign policy have always, always, been right in line with neocon-type thinking. Sometimes he has made noise about resisting their moves, but has always ended up backing them.
    His actions in editing budgets for a few trillion dollars does not erase any of this. And if you believe he ever was some truly selfless, bipartisan figure you are woefully ignorant of the man’s history.


  5. Arizona says:

    I grew-up in Arizona and was here well before McCain carpet-
    bagged his way into this state. He is an evil, nasty, mean man
    who took advantage of his POW status to get into Congress and
    then used his power to screw his fellow POWs/ MIAs who were
    left behind, and eventually, all of our troops.
    Check out McCain’s voting record and check-out his attacks on
    POW/MIA families. You can find those on YouTube.
    His campaign’s negativity reflected the true John McCain. He
    never talked straight.
    I truly regret not going to the Biltmore last night with a Barr/
    Paul/ Nader/ McKinney sign, or a rotten tomato to hurl at
    That and that the Angry Munchkin still pretends to live in my
    state — talk about being reviled by association, try being an


  6. Thom says:

    It was a stunning speech. It seemed like he’d been wanting to make
    it for some time, wanting to wash his hands of the horrible crap he
    allowed in this campaign.
    And – you don’t think concession speeches can have
    consequences? I think that one may have. I think a lot of other
    people got mixed up in the horribleness of the campaign and can
    take McCain’s eloquent and heartfelt ejection from it as example.


  7. WigWag says:

    The crowd at a losing candidate’s concession speech always boos when the name of the winning candidate is mentioned. Always! The crowd listening to McCain concede wasn’t any more boisterous in their booing than the crowd at John Kerry’s concession speech four years ago.
    And there was nothing particularly gracious about McCain’s speech; it was par for the course, just like the speech given by Kerry, Dole and others who have been defeated(Gore’s concession speech was exceptional but then the circumstances were exceptional).
    Expecting the crowd that supported the losing candidate to applaud the winning candidate (or even to remain silent) at one of these speeches is like expecting Red Sox fans to cheer the Yankees when they take the field at Fenway Park. It’s just not going to happen.
    And anyway, who cares about any of this? Neither Obama’s accetance speech or McCain’s concession speech have any consequence at all.


  8. Bill Scheinman says:

    I agree with your assessment. The crowd was much less gracious than Senator McCain, who delivered a fine concession speech, revealing his better side. I also took note of his cursory embrace of his running mate. My girlfriend and I have a bet: she thinks Sarah Palin will “crash & burn” within a year or so, spiraling into oblivion. I believe the Governor of Alaska will be back with a vengeance, now that her appetite for national politics has been whetted.


  9. Scott says:

    One gracious speech can not erase the filth McCain unleashed and
    implicitly condoned during his campaign. Sorry, but you do not get
    to wipe the slate clean with a single speech.


  10. Fran says:

    Yeah, Dr. Frankenstein McCain created a monster he could not control and tried to kill it last night. The monster wasn’t having it, McCain publicly tries to wash his hands with a Mr. Nice Guy routine, and the monster he created lives on. My hero.


  11. jc says:

    For weeks, McCain and Palin worked to incite Obama hatred in their crowds. They’ve said he is a socialist who pals around with terrorists– that he thinks the terrorists are the good guys, and have implied that Obama is anti-American… that we don’t know “who Obama really is”.
    As I watched McCain deliver his speech last night, and heard the ugly reactions of his supporters at any mention of Obama’s name, I could only feel that McCain’s words were empty. Just words. The truth was on display for the world to see.


  12. Spunkmeyer says:

    McCain couldn’t quite get that genie of hate back in its bottle last
    evening. I was very disappointed with the crowd at his concession
    speech last night, but he and Gov. Palin are responsible for
    implicitly encouraging it over the last few months.


  13. Steve Hunt says:

    He was quite obviously furious with these people. I think the “Obama is an Arab!” lady flashed in his mind when the boos started and he let them know that he wasn’t going to stand for it immediately…I too was impressed.


  14. Linda says:

    Cotterperson and many other TWN readers, 3-4 weeks ago I linked and then again linked to Jane Mayer’s article on Palin in “The New Yorker” that was all about both the Weekly Standards and National Review’s cruises to Alaska and their meeting Palin.
    I won’t bother again as anybody interested in reading Jane Mayer’s brilliant 5 pages can go find it.
    The future of rebuilding a new generation of Republicans is with Bobby Jindal in LA and not with Palin in Alaska. The country now is going to want very intelligent and well-educated leaders and realize that is not elitist. We need and deserve better than that.


  15. cotterperson says:

    Here’s a clue to the Palin “mystery:”
    “Sources in the McCain camp, the Republican Party and Washington think tanks say Mrs Palin was identified as a potential future leader of the neoconservative cause in June 2007. That was when the annual summer cruise organised by the right-of-centre Weekly Standard magazine docked in Juneau, the Alaskan state capital, and the pundits on board took tea with Governor Palin.”


  16. FranckTheFrog says:

    I didn’t catch his body language toward Palin, and would not be surprised if he has ended up disappointed or even hostile to her, but at least his remarks went beyond her future in Alaska: he said “We can all look forward with great interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican Party and our country.”


  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Palin’s physician came out yesterday and said “Palin is in excellent health”, or something to that effect. I guess they figure that constitutes “releasing her medical records”.
    Hopefully, now, maybe this self-serving vindictive bitch can slither back to Alaska and pretend to be the “hockey mom” she’s been lyin’ about being, put her poor kids back in school, and let that little baby cuddle and nurse with his REAL mother.


  18. Polka Dot Dress says:

    Now we can go back to the celebrations before Bobby Kennedy was shot, and start all over again. The last 40 years should have never happened.


  19. Balakirev says:

    I certainly hope Palin doesn’t fade from the scene. She has the ambition to rule, but none of the skills or intelligence required for the top job. Most voters, too, understand this, if an endless series of polls are to be believed. I don’t think she can be handled into becoming a superb candidate in four years.
    But it’s my feeling that the hardcore right wing of the Republican Party that rules it these days will be looking elsewhere for a time-tested candidate, and Palin will drop out of sight as soon as they find one. She shines only in borrowed light.


  20. pacos_gal says:

    I too thought that McCain gave a gracious speech and that his crowd wasn’t nearly as gracious.
    McCain sounded more like the McCain that we are use to hearing speak, say back in 2000, than the man who has been on the campaign trail recently.
    McCain can work with Obama’s administration and that if we go back to some of the things he flip flopped on early, like say torture, that he would be a good guy to lead a reversal of the current policies within the senate.
    Now when it is so apparent that the Republican remnants in Congress are going to lean to the far right. Reaching out to a Republican who will be more free to be moderate than others, could be a very good thing. McCain owes no one at this point, he can be the senator that he wants to be.
    Obama may not necessarily need McCain, but he needs the country to work together. This would be a start.
    On another note, did you see the article “The Global Brand Bargain” in Foreign Policy this morning by Robert Hutchings and Frederick Kempe? If so what do you think?


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