Senator John McCain has launched his Independent candidacy for President with just the kind of performance the media has been looking for in the former Republican: high-mindedly piling praise on also-ran Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama. McCain was effusive in his praise of Senators Clinton and Obama saying,
I commend both Senators Obama and Clinton for the long, hard race they have run. Senator Obama has impressed many Americans with his eloquence and his spirited campaign. Senator Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage.
The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans, and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received. As the father of three daughters, I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach. I am proud to call her my friend. Pundits and party elders have declared that Senator Obama will be my opponent. He will be a formidable one. But I’m ready for the challenge, and determined to run this race in a way that does credit to our campaign and to the proud, decent and patriotic people I ask to lead.
The mainstream media was delighted with his lackluster delivery and the speech's tepid audience reception. On CBS, Jeff Greenfield said,
There's no energy here. There's no crowd behind him the way there was with Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. You see the slogan, 'A Leader You Can Believe In' that's designed to say 'I'm the Commander in Chief and Obama's credentials are weak.' But you can barely read the slogan because he's blocking it. Also, if you were the oldest candidate ever to run for president and you want to communicate a sense of dynamism, you want to surround yourself with energy, and that is not what happened in McCain's event last night.
It has also been reported that the five voters who really prefer a high-minded campaign as opposed to a lively one are impressed as well. Most exciting of all to the msm and to Democrats everywhere was the ease and actual pleasure with which McCain pounded his former party.
I have worked with the President to keep our nation safe. But he and I have not seen eye to eye on many issues. We’ve disagreed over the conduct of the war in Iraq and the treatment of detainees; over out of control government spending and budget gimmicks; over energy policy and climate change; over defense spending that favored defense contractors over the public good.
I disagreed strongly with the Bush administration’s mismanagement of the war in Iraq. I called for the change in strategy that is now, at last, succeeding where the previous strategy had failed miserably. I was criticized for doing so by Republicans. I was criticized by Democrats. I was criticized by the press. But I don’t answer to them. I answer to you. And I would be ashamed to admit I knew what had to be done in Iraq to spare us from a defeat that would endanger us for years, but I kept quiet because it was too politically hard for me to do. No ambition is more important to me than the security of the country I have defended all my adult life....
When members of my party refused to compromise not on principle but for partisanship, I have sought to do so. When I fought corruption it didn’t matter to me if the culprits were Democrats or Republicans. I exposed it and let the chips fall where they may. When I worked on campaign finance and ethics reform, I did so with Democrats and Republicans, even though we were criticized by other members of our parties, who preferred to keep things as they were. I have never refused to work with Democrats simply for the sake of partisanship. I’ve always known we belong to different parties, not different countries. We are Americans before we are anything else.
Adding to the excitement was the reaction from the Right-Wing attack machine. Radio talker and hate monger Laura Ingraham had this to say,
As for McCain, God bless him, he simply does not inspire at the lectern. He looks bored and we feel bored. And while there were a few fun lines in his address, he still has the stiff "screen-lock" look reading the teleprompter. It's too bad that Obama capitalized on the "Change" brand because McCain is the one who needs it most: he needs a change in approach, a change in emphasis, a change in substance. McCain emphasized ending "partisan rancor" and boasted "I have never refused to work with Democrats...if I'm elected president the era of the permanent campaign will end." President Bush thought he could do the same by having Ted Kennedy write his education bill and by massively expanding Medicare. Look where that got him. Here's a clue: If you truly believe the left's agenda for America is destructive, working with Democrats ain't that honorable.
In response to Senator McCain's respectful treatment, presumptive nominee Obama responded,
My differences with him — my differences with him are not personal. They are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign, because while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign.
It’s not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush 95 percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.
It’s not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies that have failed to create well-paying jobs, or insure our workers, or help Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college, policies that have lowered the real incomes of the average American family, widened the gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and left our children with a mountain of debt.
It’s not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians, a policy where all we look for are reasons to stay in Iraq, while we spend billions of dollars a month on a war that isn’t making the American people any safer.
So I’ll say this: There are many words to describe John McCain’s attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush’s policies as bipartisan and new, but “change” is not one of them.
“Change” is not one of them, because change is a foreign policy that doesn’t begin and end with a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged.
As is widely known, the Republican Party, unable to find a satisfactory conservative to carry the Reagan mantle, decided for the first time since running John C. Fremont for President in 1856 not to run a candidate for the highest office in the land.
It is unknown whether they ever will again.