September 3, 2008

BR'ER MAVERICK AND THE ARTICULATE PATCH :

McCain's September surprise? (JONATHAN MARTIN | 9/3/08, Politico)

For weeks, McCain aides have been furiously lowering expectations for his convention speech, painting a portrait of a charisma-averse candidate with all the sizzle of a small-town Rotarian.

“McCain is not best on the physicality of speech-giving,” said longtime aide and principal wordsmith Mark Salter. “I’ve got a guy with, for better or for worse, two broken shoulders and a broken leg — he’s a little stiff, ya know,” he said of McCain’s Vietnam War injuries, punctuating his reminder with a wry chuckle.

A look at McCain’s convention history, however, suggests that such doleful expectation setting may be just that — and that his campaign isn’t quite as upset about being compared to Obama’s Invesco Field spectacular as you might think.

McCain’s unexpected choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate has also brought a new energy to delegates gathered here, giving McCain a real opportunity to connect with the emotion and passion of the GOP base.

Through the years, McCain has embraced the varied styles of convention oratory, turning in performances that ranged in tone from attack dog to inspirational warrior-poet to defiant leader.

In 1988, he gleefully joined the GOP chorus that was savaging Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis for being clueless when it came to national defense. Dukakis, McCain thundered, “seems to believe that the Trident is a chewing gum, that the B-1 is a vitamin pill and the Midgetman is anyone shorter than he is.”


One is tempted to believe that God invented the expectations game for his own amusement: just as Senator Obama would have disappointed people even had he given a great speech, so too will Mr. McCain impress people even if he gives an ordinary one.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 3, 2008 7:47 AM
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