In humble attempt at casting this in the tradition of Socrates, a (slightly altered) quote:

"The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Live Bloggin' as I Watch the Repubs' Convention, Part III (McCain's Speech)

So, waiting on McCain to roll up to the podium here, and thought I'd try a final live post here as I watch (live video if it available here). It'll be nice for these two conventions to finally be over so I can get some more sleep; it's neat to have been able to watch a bit of both though, since I (unfortunately) didn't pay much attention to the last election.

Okay, now this video of him is again, his story is more than I could ever imagine, and I completely admire the way he stayed there longer when he had the option to leave. Watch this piece on PBS' NewsHour to hear some other POWs who support McCain, but another who does not (who was with him in Hanoi, Vietnam).

I hate that line in the convention video though of "keeping our money in our pockets" in regard to taxes--it isn't always self-centered to think that way, but I think it completely encourages it. I'll tell you what they can do with that line in the video about "the stars being aligned" for McCain to be president too--that's the fate-based talk that tries to trump reason, and I've got about zero patience for it. There are reasons, many of them, to vote one way or another, and they relate to the everyday needs of people out there, our country, our role in the world, etc.

Alright, he's on now though and is talking about Bush "leading us in these dark days following the worst attack in American history"--I'm not sure I've ever seen Bush "lead" on a damn thing, to be frank. I don't think he has that circumspection; that's not a demeaning comment as much as it is an honest one--leaders don't come around everyday, they develop and are seasoned as they move into the position.

Nice comments there about Cindy McCain, I appreciate that he would lift her up and compliment her.

Now he's addressing "Obama and his supporters," saying they have his "respect and admiration"; I'm not sure that's true given his mocking of their support, calling it support for a mere "celebrity." The crowd here's one that looks more like that which is caught up with a celebrity, chanting "U-S-A" on and off with no seeming ties to what McCain's actually saying. It's not that I don't respect them as people, I just think that loving your country without standards isn't love, and that's what I think many Americans unfortunately fall into (and what this crowd is reminding me of).

He's talking about fighting corruption and pork-barrel spending now--both of which are true to a point, and valid, I just don't think he's taking the country in the right way.

And now into Iraq. He's saying we would all be threatened if we'd pulled out of Iraq sooner; that's not true and the bipartisan Iraq Study Group and others have stood by that. There's no admittance of his vote that got us into Iraq in the first place.

Some nice personal stories of people struggling and a soldier who died in Iraq; those stories are of course needed for any politician to stay connected to real people.

A cut at Obama there about his vote for an energy bill that did a lot for conservation, though there was some compromise that necessitated leaving in some giveaways to oil companies.

He's going into various things now, but mentioned the idea of respecting a "culture of life," getting at abortion issues, though you won't hear him come out saying the death penalty needs to go (though Obama isn't either, not fully at least).

Now into stuff against Obama. Bold-faced lies about tax increases--again, Obama's said it will only be those making $250,000 or more who would pay slightly more in taxes. More scare tactics about health care too, saying there will be a "bureaucrat" between some citizens and their health care. But John, what about the dollar bills that are in between some 47 million citizens and their health care now? And the profit-making insurance companies that charge more to all involved by trying to maximize profit?

He's talking on education here now, and there are some fair things being said; but he's pushing the thing of parental choice as the Republican talking point it is--it may be helpful, but it's not where many believe they should focus. And now he's saying Obama would make education answer to unions--how about when he stood up to them and said the controversial thing of providing merit-based pay to teachers? Yeah, too complicated for the masses I guess.

And see, here's one of my issues with McCain and the Repubs: they mention drilling offshore first again and again when talking about energy issues. It's one thing if they were saying here and there it could be helpful to invest a little (though I definitely am suspicious of that too), but they make it the first thing they talk about consistently. It's a ploy the way they're playing it, period.

Now onto foreign policy. Stoke 'em John stoke 'em, stoke those foreign countries, threaten them, just what we need, more bellicose. I just can't get over that he'd joke about bombing Iran...He says he hates war, and I could believe that; but that doesn't mean he sees it as the absolute last resort that it must be (if that), particularly joking about it like he has (and voting for it with Iraq).

Bipartisanship is good, as he's talking about here, but the tasks and goals the president pushes and fights for matter, they simply do; there are problems that have to be worked at with due diligence and a humane perspective, and so it matters what solutions are being offered.

Now he's talking about his time in prison camp again...

"Stand up to fight against our enemies" he ended with as one of his last lines though? Geez, I actually liked the other calls preceding it to serve our country, to seek justice, etc., but I don't like the idea of characterizing some general "enemies" that we need to fight against; sure there are enemies, so to speak, of America, but I'd much rather have leaders calling for us to see how much we have in common with the world, how we can restore healthy friendships with countries, and so forth.

That's it though. I have to say I'm underwhelmed. I liked some things he had to say, particularly his calls to serve causes greater than ourselves, but I didn't hear much in the way of innovative policies to facilitate some of that service through the government. Some may shirk at the idea of innovative government programs, but it's simply the concept, as Congressman Barney Frank apparently said at one time, of people working together to do more than they can separately through an entity we call government. Many have done great things with it over time: social security so our vulnerable elderly are cared for; the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) under FDR to give young men work and to build up roads and infrastructure in America; the Peace Corps and the wonderful work that's been done through it; unemployment for those who could be in trouble because of unexpectedly losing a job (I myself have experienced this and completely appreciated being able to receive unemployment for a month or so while looking for a job; of course it can be abused, but there are safeguards put in place to attempt to ensure individuals are looking for jobs, etc.). All of these could be overdone or done badly, but I would argue with any that say they are not needed.

I'm getting into polls here though, they're a handy way to rate perspectives, so here's another related to the four government programs I just mentioned:


Anonymous said...

This campaign is quickly becoming a campaign of competing narratives. Who has the best personal story? Which story makes you feel the most? Who had the worst childhood or the worst tragedy in his/her life? McCain advisors urged him to pull out the stops in his acceptance speech at the RNC and describe his years as a prisoner of war. (Jon Stewart commented that if being a prisoner of war equates with being a leader, maybe we should start thinking of Guantanamo as a leadership training camp.) It is understandable that we are drawn into these stories. Everyone loves a story, and they are certainly more interesting than listening to a list of issues and proposed solutions. That said, our country is in bad shape. People are suffering, the environment is eroding quickly. The issues are what this campaign is really all about, and we had better be paying attention to them. Let's forget about whether we like hockey moms or not and how many kids someone has and look at where that person stands on basic human rights for homosexuals, on the proper response to global warming, on what we need to do as a country to fix our national debt and have a healthy economy. The list goes on and on. These are not "sexy" topics, but they affect every single one of us and our future as Americans and as global citizens.

Brendan said...

I like the way you think anonymous, and undoubtedly agree. It's a sobering thing to pull oneself from the cheering and jeering and consider the candidates' views of war, how they are suggesting to deal with so many who can't go to a doctor b/c health care is priced out for them, and as you say, the list goes on.

I've tried to consider issues and character w/my posts and personal evaluation of things, and have a few links on the right of my blog to help with that too: and I'd welcome anyone who has an issue they're interested in taking the time to research a little and write about to contact me and i can possibly post it here.

Oh, and i do have to say Stewart's right on w/the POW comment it seems; it's not disrespectful, in my view, to provide a response such as that to what ended up being a quite endless mentioning of McCain's time as a POW throughout the Repub's convention--and the ironic avoidance, at least in many addresses i saw, of major issues; although i guess they did mention Iraq and health care, education and others, it's just that they didn't have the right answers or right emphases in my opinion.

And related to what you said there, that all gets to the point that many feel they Repubs don't have the right answers to Iraq, to health care, etc., and so want to lure Americans in w/stories and less substance. My mom told me recently about how her college students feel they are being drawn into the idea of deciding on these type of stories and not issues; it doesn't seem stories and the character they can reveal should be discounted, but just secondary to actual issues.