It was classy of John McCain to say this of Barack Obama, reciprocating what Obama said about him personally in his acceptance speech:
Finally, a word to Senator Obama and his supporters. We'll go at it over the next two months. That's the nature of these contests, and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other.
(Here was Obama on McCain one week ago:
Let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and our respect.)
Of course that note in McCain's speech clashed with all other references to Obama -- that I heard -- from the convention podium. It did remind us of the innocent days when people thought a McCain-Obama contest might mainly be about principles of government and ways to solve impacted problems, rather than a reprise of the Culture Wars that is becoming surprisingly more acrid than it was in 2000 or 2004.
On the other hand, another part of McCain's speech was consistent with what the other speakers said:
I'm grateful to the President for leading us in those dark days following the worst attack on American soil in our history, and keeping us safe from another attack many thought was inevitable..
The President? Hmmm, I wonder who that might be? Could it be, perhaps, the sitting two-term incumbent of the same party holding its convention? The person whose economic and military policies shape the environment the next president will deal with?
As best I can tell, in the tens of thousands of words making up the combined remarks of John McCain, Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, and Lindsay Graham, the Name That Must Not Be Uttered appeared exactly once, in this sentence by Romney:
George Bush labeled the terror-sponsor states the Axis of Evil.
Perhaps Mitt's speechwriters did not get the message. Or perhaps it would be more comfortable for all involved if we applied the theological solution devised in Old Testament times and remove blasphemous potential from the name by rendering it B-SH.
Update: I wrote this hours before seeing the very similar reference to He Who Must Not Be Named --same guy! -- in Paul Krugman's column just now.