>Politics: Hope vs. Fear – the McCain Speech

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2.15 am: I’m up watching the McCain speech at the Republican Convention. They are not doing themselves any favours: the pre-speech video was so corny that I am still picking yellow bits from between my teeth. Especially the shiny, happy black people and the old voting Iraqi lady. This speech had better be good…

3.05: He’s finished (the speech; not his campaign). Definitely not an Obama. Not even a Palin. But that’s his style: straight talk. At least as straight as you can get from a politician.

His attempt to depict himself as someone above name-calling seemed genuine, but was quite unconvincing to anyone who has followed the campaign with any kind of scrutiny. For all the Republican accusations that Obama is full of hot air, there was a warm breeze blowing through the Xcel Energy Center last night. McCain was just as big on promises and skimpy on explanations as his opponent and the same people accusing the Democrats of this lapped it up in a demonstration of auto-pilot that any airplane manufacturer would have shed proud tears over. All McCain had to do was throw in the name ‘Palin’ every now and then, and they were eating out of his hands.

In fact, given the extent to which he denounced ‘Washington Insiders’, it seemed like he (an insider himself) was aligning himself with Palin more than the other way around. Very fascinating. Without naming any names, he really went for the Bush Administration. Like a rottweiler off a leash. Goodness. Really tried hard to set himself apart (tried). With friends like these…

A protestor or two attempted to storm the hall but McCain cracked some joke or another and the crowd drowned them out with “USA!” chants. It should have been electric but had all the drama of a stifled fart.

I hate how he keeps banging on about the success of the surge strategy in Iraq: they should not have been there in the first place. It’s not enough to say “well, we’re there now so let’s forget all that.” Surely the fact that Obama was against the war and McCain in favour of it means more than McCain’s ensuring US ‘success’ after the mistake. What is this US obsession with victory anyway? Vietnam left a deeper scar than they are perhaps willing to admit out there.

No one’s saying don’t chase terrorists. Just don’t bring Iraq into it when you know the terrorists are hiding in Afghanistan. All the misconceptions the Bush boys foisted upon America were all there. McCain simply reiterated them, fanning ignorance’s flame. Ultimately such siege mentality will only stand to worsen security, lower their standing and increase anti-Americanism, even among America’s allies. This is ‘Country First’ how exactly…?

More wars, more fighting. He used the word “fight” more than 20 times in the speech. Probably more than he used the word “the”. One moment he says he is anti-war and the next, he’s baiting Iran and Russia. How exactly is entering into more wars – already causing the American economy to haemorrhage – going to result in the funds to do half the things he promises. This is the change to come? 

Remember Trey Stone & Matt Parker’s cartoon in Farenheit 9/11 depicting how US history has been shaped by white American men’s fear of everyone else in the world? No? Here it is, in all its brilliance:

I got a distinct whiff of this from McCain’s speech. From the whole convention in fact, especially the audience’s reception to what was essentially an extended reminder of 9/11 and Vietnam. I think they’ll win all fearful independents.

It’s Hope vs. Fear this year.

They’re playing ‘September’ by Earth, Wind & Fire. Oh… now it’s ‘Celebration’ by Kool & the Gang. I wonder how both legendary funk bands feel about having their music played here. Funk… that’s the right word: there was something quite funky about this speech.

… and not in the musical sense of the word.

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