This is the real comparison that matters:
John McCain yells “Get off my grass” for 20 minutes from the podium in a retirement community cafeteria.
Obama declares victory and outlines his vision for America.
If you have the time, watch them back to back. The McCain speech was even more painful the second time I watched it, and Ezra is right:
The content of McCain’s speech is basically what you’d expect, but the delivery is really peculiar. His voice is artificially high, he’s grinning more frequently then usual, his tone is jumping octaves to soften the end of his sentences. It’s a cuddly, almost delicate delivery, as if he were reading a storybook to really young children. It’s extremely disconcerting.
It is beyond disconcerting. It is painful. It is physically grating listening to him speak, and I can’t decide if that odd smile he seems to randomly flash reminds me more of Dick Cheney or Danny DeVito’s version of the Penguin. Either way, it is just unnerving.
The most important thing to take from this is that McCain is profoundly uncomfortable; awkward, if you will, on the attack. I read a report yesterday from Mark Halperin in which he stated things that Obama and Hillary both underestimate, and #5 for Obama was this snippet about the McCain campaign:
How much the McCain high command disdains him.
Which means that when you factor that his campaign is staffed with neocons who were waiting in the wings during the Bush year, attack dogs like the Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb and those like him, you can expect McCain’s speeches to be peppered with things he doesn’t really want to say or isn’t sure how to deliver (hence the awkward smile and weird looks throughout his speech last night). That will be a recipe for success, and combined with the inevitable volcanic eruption and his McMavericky habit of complete 180’s on every issue he claims to care about (he was against torture before he refused to vote against it, he has done another about face on spying on Americans, he was against the Bush tax cuts before e was for them, etc.), all we are really needing for McCain to devolve into complete parody is for him to spit his dentures out mid-snarl.
Then, watch the uplifting and rousing speech by Obama. I know, I know, just words. But such important words:
The other side will come here in September and offer a very different set of policies and positions, and that is a debate I look forward to. It is a debate the American people deserve. But what you don’t deserve is another election that’s governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon—that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first.***
America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.
The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
Compare that to McCain’s awkward and smirking “a leader you can believe in” pap. That is a comparison I am eager to make, and a comparison I think we need to make daily.
*** Update ***
Sadly, No! has some fun with McCain’s “I Have a Green Screen” speech.