11.08 pm. Quite a deflation after the drama of last night with the sportscaster-governor. It made me realize how much I am still fond of this guy. And also clearer about why this is not his moment. The specifics were very vague, and the entire presentation based on biography, nostalgia and a kind of strained, exhausted mildness. His performance at Saddleback was much, much better. He seemed very tired to me.
11.07 pm. This country song is quite horrible.
11.05 pm. And then a final sudden, almost surprising rally of energy. He seemed to me to have more energy and passion in the last two minutes than the rest of the speech combined.
11.02 pm. I love the use of the feminine pronoun for a country. Very traditional and always moving. But it does age him. He seems elegiac to me right now, almost wistful.
10.58 pm. Ending with his war story. It's a beautiful story - about the limits of independence. Which again is a little odd for a conservative. Aren't conservatives the ones who highlight the joys of being on your own - especially Western conservatives? But it remains beautiful because the story is beautiful and noble. I'm just not sure it is a reason to vote for a president.
10.55 pm. An appeal for unity, not taking credit, bipartisan, etc. And a pledge for transparency and accountability. My worry is that he does not have the management skills to pull this off. That's not his skill-set.
10.52 pm. A much less bellicose appeal on foreign policy here. An appeal to his experience with foreign leaders and the military and a strong endorsement of peace. No real tub-thumping. Obviously, he's worried, especially after the impulsive and reckless Palin pick, that he might be playing into the unpredictable and volatile part of his personality.
10.50 pm. Reassembling the Russian empire? C'mon. Yes, Putin is a thug. But not like Brezhnev.
10.49 pm. The differences between him and Obama on energy independence are not that great, are they?
10.46 pm. Drilling for oil gets the biggest applause. This is why I can't feel at home in this party. I mean: I'm actually open to this policy and agree with McCain on the all-of-the-above approach, including nuclear - but this obsession with more domestic oil just seems weird to me. I guess I'm a cosmopolitan.
10.44 pm. I'd love to take on the teacher's unions and expand school choice. Why do I doubt McCain would get it done? Or doubt that a president can do much about it? He works my conservative amygdala with bashing unions. But it still seems tired and stale somehow.
10.42 pm. A policy: helping people get retrained in community colleges. Well, we do that already, right? And I'm not sure it's fair to say that Obama wants to shut us off from the global economy.
10.39 pm. His speech makes me feel a lot better as a depressed old-fashioned conservative. But it's striking how all the things that make me feel good seems to go down flat with this crowd.
10.36 pm. "We lost their trust." "Both parties made government bigger." McCain is the first person to acknowledge the reality of the last eight years. Good for him!
10.34 pm. He's fighting for you! Is this John Kerry in 2004?
10.30 pm. We have half an hour left of this convention and I still don't know what he is proposing to do.
10.28 pm. I'm sorry but when he speaks of Palin he seems as if he's praising a very promising student.
10.26 pm. "Stand on your side and fight for your future." Did McCain just use a Shrum classic?
10.24 pm. Two disruptions from what appear to be anti-war activists. Decently handled by McCain.
10.22 pm. Perfunctory about the Bushes; graceful toward Obama, even if the crowd couldn't respond.
10.17 pm. That green backdrop needs to go. It reminds one of that other speech.
(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty.)
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