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McCain’s speech

Something happened to the format in what follows. Sorry.

“We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us,”

McCain just delivered an amazing speech, much more rousing than Obama’s abstractions last week. Obama gave a soaring speech, but we live on the ground. It was full of abstractions like change. McCain spoke as one who lives in the ordinary world – so much so that he could rebuke his own party. Beautiful.

I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.

The ending reminded us of everything we loved for so long about being an American. If you did’t hear the speech you need to do so. If you have, I believe that was a speech that needs to be read closely. read it here.

On the political side, I believe the world changed over the last two days. It is now McCain’s and Palin’s to lose.

I’ll ned to reflect on this more as I get distance, but my immediate impression is to be sincerely surprised, moved, and energized.

Potentially historical important comments on education:

Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucracies. I want schools to answer to parents and students. And when I’m President, they will.

His story about the POW experience was overwhelming. He did not boast; he confessed that he was broken and ashamed. He came to love his country first when he lost it.

A lot of prisoners had it worse than I did. I’d been mistreated before, but not as badly as others. I always liked to strut a little after I’d been roughed up to show the other guys I was tough enough to take it. But after I turned down their offer, they worked me over harder than they ever had before. For a long time. And they broke me.

When they brought me back to my cell, I was hurt and ashamed, and I didn’t know how I could face my fellow prisoners. The good man in the cell next door, my friend, Bob Craner, saved me. Through taps on a wall he told me I had fought as hard as I could. No man can always stand alone. And then he told me to get back up and fight again for our country and for the men I had the honor to serve with. Because every day they fought for me.

I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s.

His awareness of reality is refreshing, and his manly acceptance of what it demands of him is inspiring:

We face many threats in this dangerous world, but I’m not afraid of them. I’m prepared for them. I know how the military works, what it can do, what it can do better, and what it should not do. I know how the world works. I know the good and the evil in it. I know how to work with leaders who share our dreams of a freer, safer and more prosperous world, and how to stand up to those who don’t. I know how to secure the peace. And this:I hate war. It is terrible beyond imagination.

I’m running for President to keep the country I love safe, and prevent other families from risking their loved ones in war as my family has. I will draw on all my experience with the world and its leaders, and all the tools at our disposal – diplomatic, economic, military and the power of our ideals – to build the foundations for a stable and enduring peace.

Then, just before the conclusion, this:

If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you’re disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist in our Armed Forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed. Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier. Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself.

A deeply moving speech for one who is not supposed to be a good speaker – though not, I suppose, to people who either are cynical about politics or are opposed to McCain as a matter of principle. I may try to review it for its rhetorical tools if I have time.

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