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I have to admit, I was getting a little worried there for a while about the newfound excitement growing behind the McCain/Palin ticket. But then John McCains spoke. I will sleep better than I have since Grandpappy Fred delivered his speech two nights ago. I think the scene that captured it all best was when the cams were panning the audience after Cindy McCain’s speech. It settled on an attractive young blonde woman with unbelievably large black buttons on her sweater. She was full-on yawning. Mouth wide, no hand-cover, no apologies. Just flat-out yawning. Then, when she was done, she broke out into a second gaping yawn. The camera operator must have realized his shot was live and he quickly panned left. I was left wondering if that poor girl, with the oversized black buttons might have yawned herself to death.

All this was going on while they were playing Chuck Berry’s Johnny Be Good, one of many great songs that are now forever ruined in my mind by the RNC. Can Kool and the Gang and Heart get together and sue the RNC for damages. I bet Ann and Nancy Williams will never play Barracuda live again. As I saw the poor girl yawning to Johnny Be Good I was wondering why they chose this song. Was it to try to remind McCain to please try to hold his temper? It almost worked.

He smiled his way through his introduction, his approach to the podium, and the longwinded cheering. It was about the third wave of applause and cheers that his old temper looked like it was about to take over. Then the USA chants started in and I swear I heard him growl just a bit. I thought for sure he was about to reflexively let out a “SHUT UP!” But then he seemed to realize he was neither in a closed committee hearing, or standing on the floor of Congress, so he politely reeled in the rage. He should have yelled for the crowd to shut up. They say a speech should have a strong introduction and that would have certainly been a strong introduction. The intro he went for instead, was not. That set the tone for, pretty much, the rest of the speech.

But I will say now in his defense that as boring and unmoving as his speech was, it sounded like a JFK, MLK and Obama oration all wrapped into one compared to his wife’s. What can I say about Cindy McCain’s speech that a corpse couldn’t explain better? I was struck by this notion: the late great Tammy Faye would have been pleased with Cindy’s appearance. And I would have to agree. She did not look like some canary-colored Vampiress tonight like she did last night alongside Mrs. Bush. She told some heart-warming stories about her understanding of impoverished nations and their people. I hope she donated her $300,000 getup form the previous night to the people of Bangledesh. They could make a tent out of her de la Renta when those pesky monsoons come. Sadly, she didn’t confirm or deny if her husband did in fact drop the C-bomb on her. And, in her defense her make-up didn’t seem “painted on”, nor did she look like a trollop (though if she did, no one but John and his 96 year old mother would think to use that word to describe her). She spoke without saying anything. She smiled without seeming kind or nice. Basically she left me with the same feeling I get every time I hear her speak or see her walk into a room: fear. She reminds me of the Snow Queen from Narnia, ready to cast the world into an icy frozen existence while her army of snow leopards wreaks havoc on all the innocent little deer of the world. But that’s just me.

John’s speech wasn’t THAT bad. It wasn’t much better though. He was introduced by a voice over from none other than Grandpappy Fred, which made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I felt safe and wondered if summer might not last forever. Before that, I saw a video which taught me a lot about John McCain. Not that he was a POW. I have heard that countless times. I get it. I appreciate it. John is a hero. But do I have to give over my country and my civil liberties. Just because he was a prisoner, do we all have to be? No I knew John’s war record. I didn’t know his father’s (not to that degree anyway), nor did I know his grandfather. Both 4 star military men. That’s when it hit me. The White House is John’s 4 stars. He couldn’t get them with is injuries and all, so he’s going to outdo his forefathers by getting promoted even higher than they ever did. It’s an old macho ambition thing! Now I get it! That’s why he sacrificed his own will in selecting Lieberman or Ridge for Palin. That is why he wouldn’t budge on an unjust war no matter how the real intelligence changed. Ambition. Blind, dangerous Ambition. It all makes sense now. Like Bush, McCain has Daddy Issues. Great! We can all pay the price for those, too!

The speech itself was not only a snoozer in its delivery, but in content as well. And I am not talking about vocabulary, though someone needs to tell Mr. McCain, and Mrs. Palin for that matter, that the word is pundit, not ‘pundint’. But that is a trifle. I mean the real content – all the stuff that makes a simple speech into a hearty stew. This speech was a watery, salty, bitter porridge that left me feeling like little waifish Oliver wanting “more sir”. The most significant thing he said in this speech was that the Republican party has been ruined to its core by corruption. He admitted that they – I presume he meant him and Strom Thurmond – had all gone to Washington 120 years ago to change Washington, “but Washington changed them.” Now he was proposing to fix it… as a Republican. Isn’t that like a cop saying he’s going to clean up the streets by dealing crack for the gang-bangers?

Other than his accurate assessment of the Republican party, there was little meat at all in his speech. There was an attempt to liven it up about half way through. Good speeches often rely on repetition. McCain tried a variation on this method at one point. He tried to mix in a simple equation with the repetition. The equation looks a little like this: “My [insert your policy here] will [insert something good here].” Then add, “His [insert your opponent’s policy here] will [insert something bad here]. The result should be a volley of “Yays” and “Boos” respectfully allotted to you and then your opponent. McCain failed to set the equation up well and it wasn’t until he’d nearly run though his list of inserts that the crowd knew when to “Yay” or “Boo”. It all sounded confused and a little awkward. I figured by then, the girl with the big black buttons was dead asleep in a corner somewhere.

Speeches are supposed to have attention-getting intros; this one didn’t. They are also supposed to have rousing endings; this one did! It sure was rousing alright. It got me so excited; I wanted to run out and punch my neighbor in the head! McCain got the repetition trick right at the closing of his speech. He decided to repeat the word “fight” over and over. This is a great tactic as almost all of us, unless home-schooled, have a memory from childhood of a playground scuffle where the fight-fight chant stirred great emotion in us – either because we were getting pummeled, we were pummeling or we were watching one of our friends either getting pummeled or pummeling someone. Well, there weren’t too many home-schoolers in that audience, I can tell you. Everyone went wild for the fight-fight-chant. I did too. And I will tell you something else. I don’t even know who he was asking us to fight, but I was all for it. Obama and Biden? Sure, fight ‘em! Big Oil? Sure, I’ll fight them too! The Iranians? Fight ‘em! The Russians? Hell yes! That Putin thinks he’s such a big shot! Let’s fight him! Mother Nature? With all her stupid global warming! Let’s fight her too!

But wait. Haven’t we been fighting anyone and everyone for the past eight years? Where has all that fighting gotten us? Maybe McCain’s conclusion wasn’t so great either afterall.

-Peter J. Burns

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