Speaking from a lectern at the end of a long runway, John McCain delivered a lengthy 60-minute town hall style speech short of charisma and, with some exceptions, excitement. It was, however, an inspiring look into the character of a man who champions change and service.
It was clear that change was one of his themes when he said that he can’t wait to introduce Sarah Palin in Washington to the “do nothing crowd” exclaiming that “change is coming.” He then spoke of the changes he will bring about as President, some of which will be to correct the mistakes of his own party.
In speaking about his self absorbed youth, he said that one of the best things that happened to him was spending five years in a jail cell in Hanoi. He confessed that after refusing to accept a release by his captors after one year of imprisonment, he was brutally tortured until he broke down. It was then that he said he realized he was alive to serve his country.
Since then he has been a “servant first, last and always” and “never lived a day that didn’t thank God for the privilege.” He stated that “I’m not running for President to save my country. My country saved me. And I will fight every day to save her.”
His points would have been much more powerful had he held his gaze at the end of strong statements. He did this many times during his speech, thus depriving himself the opportunity to drive his points home. As an example, he said that he “will protect America so that can have peace.” This was a very strong statement, but on the word “peace” he looked down at his notes. Vocally, he missed opportunities to vary the pace and tones of his voice to emphasize key words in phrases that could have been very powerful.
His only stirring moment came at the end of his speech when he concluded with “Fight with me. Fight with me. Fight for what’s right with our country. Fight for the ideals and the character of the free people. Fight for our children’s future. Fight for justice and opportunity for all. Stand up. Defend our country from its enemies. Stand up for each other. Stand up. Stand up. Stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here. We’re Americans and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.” Fortunately for McCain, this stream of powerful urges did much to cure the ills of what was otherwise a C+ speech.