NEW YORK (CNN) – One of the most memorable lines of Barack Obama’s speech Tuesday night in St. Paul involved his opponent in the general election: John McCain, a man “who has served this country heroically.” Obama then pointedly added: “I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine.”
It was consistent with Obama’s oft-stated praise of McCain’s military service, who was a POW during the Vietnam War. But it also included a polite dig.
McCain, for his part, pointedly noted that “the American people didn’t get to know me yesterday, as they are just getting to know Senator Obama.” It was his way of suggesting that the presumptive Democratic nominee is still a blank slate for a lot of Americans.
Just watching and listening to their respective speeches highlights their many differences including their backgrounds and age. Obama is 46 and McCain is 71.
Obama and McCain have offered near-daily criticism of each other since it became clear both would be their parties’ respective nominees, though I suspect the worst attacks of the campaign season will come from surrogates who in contrast will take off the gloves and hammer away, on personal and policy differences alike. The biographies of the two men could not be more different. And there are major policy differences between them on a whole host of foreign and domestic policy. They strongly disagree on Iraq, taxes, health care and a lot more.
I suspect all of us are about to learn quite bit about those differences, and that is good.