Earlier in the day, McCain's campaign advisors had promised CNN and MSNBC that the Republican candidate's acceptance speech would address the economy and other issues in detail. Instead, Americans heard a speech that - except for a few diversions - contained little of either. Although McCain hammered on the fact that the Republican party had lost the trust of Americans, he also began by thanking George Bush for 'protecting America'.
Unfortunately, this verified what many Americans have said about McCain all along, that he still supports the idea of the Iraq war, as well as the policies of one George W. Bush.
At the very start, when McCain mentioned his concern with the number of Americans out of work, a man and a woman stood up and began a loud protest. Both were quickly led from the building. No one seemed to know who they were, although they had the usual credentials hanging around their necks. Another person held up a banner against the Iraq war. He was also removed by security staff.
All week this writer has avoided watching any of the convention, in order to gain a more objective view of the final fireworks. Tonight, I tuned in and took a hard look at the crowd, searching out the faces to determine for myself what types of people were in attendance or who were serving as delegates. What I discovered was nothing even remotely resembling a cross-section of America. The vast majority of attendees were Caucasian, and most of them were much better coiffed than their Democratic counterparts. The general atmosphere of the crowd was white, upscale, affluent America, with very few minorities.
It suddenly occurred to this writer what the 2008 election was all about.
It was a battle between White Affluent Upscale America and The Rest of Us.
The best part of McCain's speech was when he spoke of his time as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese. It brought tears to the eyes of many, and showed that indeed, John McCain is an American hero. He admitted he had been 'broken' by his North Vietnamese captors, but that one of his fellow prisoners had urged him to keep fighting. It was a high point, and there is no denying that McCain has given more than most for his country.
However, except for a few general comments, he failed to address the issues that voters crave answers about. He promised major offshore oil drilling and increasing the use of nuclear power as his start to solving America's energy problems. He talked about clean coal and other alternatives, but somehow these promises sounded empty coming from Senator McCain. He discussed catching up to the Information Age, as if America was somehow behind on this issue, when in reality America is certainly a leader. This sounded strange coming from a man who has already admitted he doesn't know how to use a computer.
McCain told the crowd that his Vice-Presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, was certain to shake up the status quo in Washington. But to quote the film Air Force One he forgot that in our system of government the Vice President can hardly get airline tickets without asking someone for a voucher first.
When McCain hit high points, a large number of attendees did not look convinced. In fact, many had serious expressions as if they were having doubts about the whole thing. This was both strange and disturbing.
Meanwhile, outside the confines of the Convention Center, protests continued. There were some arrests, some uses of pepper spray, but nothing like the 1968 convention in Chicago, for example.
McCain did not talk specifics regarding the number one issue - the economy - and his failure to address the economy was a glaring mistake. He hinted about possibly increasing the amount of unemployment insurance available to states, but he gave no hard-core answers to the economic woes facing America. He only offered cutting the tax rate for corporations and vetoing pork barrel projects. He poked fun at Obama's plan to provide health care, saying 'a bureaucrat will be standing between you and your doctor...'
Instead, McCain focused on fears about terrorism and basically letting Americans figure out all the answers for themselves. He offered up the typical Republican trickle-down economic theory as his only answer, and then said 'I'm going to fight for you...fight with me...' several times.
But he didn't say what punches Americans should throw in such a fight, or how he intended to make it happen. His 'call to fight for America' sounded hollow and militaristic, and the type of speech you give when running for mayor of a small town perhaps, instead of the Presidency.
McCain had the national stage for fifty minutes and a chance to tell America his exact plan for the country - and he failed to take advantage of the audience.
McCain is a great American in many ways. But in this writer's opinion, his song remains the same.
He still doesn't get it.
(Author Note - This article was published to more than 300,000 users at BarackObama.com and will be featured soon on the Straight Talk Podcast.)