March 26, 2008


Another Voice: Reading the speeches of McCain and Obama has made me ashamed of our political class and its craven soundbites (Matthew Parris, 26th March 2008, The Spectator)

[I]t was ponderous, overlong and often dull. Nor did the speech say anything surprising or new. There was nothing there worth remembering for future reference, or quoting to you now, two years later, nor any passage that seemed worth noting down. This was a speech cluttered with heavy furniture.

But it was his. You knew that at once. It had a certain old-fashioned style and respect for language that I admire. And it turned me into a convinced admirer of the Senator that I shall always now be. I finished reading, certain that an honourable and honest man was behind the writing, certain of his strength of mind and will, and certain of his almost abrasive sense of right and wrong.

I suppose the qualities that came through most were an uncompromising nature, and a certain thrilling carelessness whether or not he was keeping his reader with him. There were quaint, somewhat antique turns of speech that any Alastair Campbell would have removed at once; long, convoluted sentences with precarious dependent clauses; and an almost solemnly scholarly tone that reminded me of my dear, self-educated, bookish grandfather. Without being able to say how, I gained from it the strongest sense of a stiff-necked integrity that seemed both refreshing and different, and wholly admirable.

One of the ways that integrity came through, I remember noting, was in a stubborn if subliminal reluctance to overstate his case for the sake of effect; he never picked the easy, vulgar word. And (though I know McCain’s reputation for impatience and sudden anger) an essential intellectual modesty came through: this speaker did not believe and so would not pretend that politics was easy or obvious; that every question had a clear answer; or that his opponents were wicked or stupid. I feel I learnt more about McCain in that quiet 20 minutes with his text in my hotel bedroom than I have since from months of reading news reports and commentaries.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 26, 2008 8:11 AM

Maybe McCain's short fuse is just what media types need. They seem taken aback and rendered speechless when he snaps at them. Sight for sore eyes for sure.

Posted by: erp at March 26, 2008 10:09 AM

Early in the primary I took the time to read the transcripts of all the Republican candidates and to my suprise, I founds McCain's speeches to have the most meat,clearly expressed. Suprised, because I had been overwhelmed by Rudy's speech delivered to the Federalist Society, but when comparing the transcript to one of McCain's, Rudy's fell short in MHO.

Posted by: Genecis at March 26, 2008 12:02 PM

Why is a short fuse such a bad thing? You hear people bring it up and it sounds like the worst thing ever "Don't vote for him! He has a bad temper!" At least he isn't an avowed racist. I think an inability to gladly suffer fools would be a wonderful asset in the White House.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 26, 2008 12:07 PM

Geez. I liked Dole because he was grumpy.

Posted by: Twn at March 26, 2008 1:58 PM