"To Return, Unscathed"

by Chris Bodenner
McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace waxes poetic on her boss's "exquisite" concession speech:

Drafted by Mark Salter, and handed to him on election night in a somber suite at the Biltmore hotel in Phoenix, the speech set a new standard for grace in defeat. That night as we waited for the polls to close so Sen. McCain could publicly concede the election to Barack Obama, McCain said to Salter, “It’s your best ever, my boy, your best ever.” The pit in my stomach turned into a lump in my throat. ... The speech sent a powerful signal around the world about the strength of our democracy. It also opened the door for the McCains to return, unscathed, to their previous lives of impressive serviceCindy McCain as an advocate for international aid and relief efforts and John McCain as a powerful, pragmatic senator known, liked, and respected by a sizable swath of Democrats, Republicans, the media, and world leaders.

In a vacuum, yes; McCain's speech was gracious.  But it was sort of like putting, well, lipstick on a pig.  And naturally, with no chance left for victory, it was in McCain's self interest to be a good sport.  True grace doesn't need an audience. However, even if you could shut out all the smears of the previous six months, the speech was still tainted with the crowd's persistent jeering of Obama (and only perfunctory claps for the country's history-making). McCain did show unscripted class as he emphatically hushed them, but it was an atmosphere he helped create in the first place.  (I may lack class for the postmortem cynicism, but so be it.)

One last thing: Here's a coupling of quotes from McCain (that night) and Obama (referencing the March on Selma) that captures the political sensibility of both men:

"This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight."

"No, no, no, no, no. That was not a great celebration of African-American history. That was a celebration of American history."

Update: I just watched the "unaired Wright attack ad," and it ends with the ironic line, "Character matters, especially when no one is listening."