September 4th, 2008
11:50 PM ET
6 years ago

Gergen: McCain shows he will be formidable

ALT TEXT

John McCain and Sarha Palin are the 2008 Republican presidential ticket. (Photo: Mike Roselli/CNN)

A few thoughts as John McCain takes his bows: one cannot leave that speech without having enormous respect for him as a war hero and patriot. His retelling of his story tonight was extremely moving. I have long been a fan of John McCain the human being and I came away even more impressed tonight. It is worth remembering that a McCain has fought in every American war since 1776.

In terms of addressing America's big challenges, however, I found the speech much less compelling. It was a very general recitation of fairly standard Republican approaches (how is he really different from Bush on policy?), and it did not address many issues such as getting us out of an economic ditch, heading off the worst financial crisis since the Depression, exploding health care costs, and more. Overall, I thought that part of the speech was thin.

Kudos to McCain for leaving personal partisan rancor out of the speech. Personally, I wish that he had curbed some of that earlier in the convention.

Overall, I came away believing that the McCain-Palin ticket will be very formidable this fall. And even though the speech was long, I thought that when one judges its political impact, I would give it an A.

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Tiffany

    Wow, I clearly must have been viewing another speech. His speech was boring and didn't seems to connect with the audience. This could be case of the #2 outshining #1. Pretty dangerous!!!!!!!

    September 5, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  2. Concerned Citizen

    I am truly confused. You write the following:

    " In terms of addressing America's big challenges, however, I found the speech much less compelling. It was a very general recitation of fairly standard Republican approaches (how is he really different from Bush on policy?), and it did not address many issues such as getting us out of an economic ditch, heading off the worst financial crisis since the Depression, exploding health care costs, and more. Overall, I thought that part of the speech was thin."

    Then you go on to state that the ticket will be formidable and you give the speech an "A."

    What am I missing here?

    McCain is NOT running for "best POW." He is running for president. YES, his service to our country was inspiring and his experience harrowing. BUT, the challenges facing this country are not the challenges faced by him over 30 years ago as a POW. They are the challenges you outlined above, the part of his speech you called thin. That part of his speech was supposed to tell us what he will do as President and he gave us more of the same, which is nothing.

    As a memoir of his life, he gets an "A," as a presidential speech he gets an "incomplete."

    September 5, 2008 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  3. Patricia

    He did?

    Were we watching the same speech?

    September 5, 2008 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  4. aaron

    I am an independent and believe both McCain and Obama are one in the same. As the election moves closer, so do they. Now McCain promises 'change' and like Obama has no idea what change is. Sadly, change would be adhering to the U.S. constitution, paying off the debt, preserving personal liberties, and stop meddling in other country's business. Neither offer the above, and our (U.S.) media doesn't seem to care.

    September 5, 2008 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  5. willie

    why are you guys so scared of mccain now that he said that you are trashing palin , please, please be real and stop tip toeing through the tulips, she is more of the same like mcsame.

    September 5, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  6. Michael; Michigan

    Even though McCain doesn't have the eloquence of Obama he did get his message through to America. I particularly liked that he will cut off the funding to countries that don't like us. His message on energy was spot on. I was leaning toward Obama just for the health care but now I'm giving McCain second thoughts.

    Obama better start being exact on his issues with details. Generalities are good for the primary but that is over now.

    September 5, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  7. DEMOCRATS FOR PALIN

    This democrat will support the McCain- Palin ticket.

    McCain makes me feel like I can trust him, where as Obama has LIED so many times and changes his opinion so many times that it makes us uneasy about what will he actually do if he wins.

    As soon as he was the nominee, he started dumping and distancing from some of the main issues that helped him beat Senator Clinton.

    Which of the many Obamas is the one we will end up with in the White House?

    At least with McCain we know we are getting what we see.

    September 5, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  8. Annette, Washington, DC

    Hum?

    September 5, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  9. Pete in WA

    I would not mind a McCain presidency, but I can't bear the thought of a possible Palin presidency down the road. So Obama will get my vote.

    September 5, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  10. Quinn, Portland OR

    "It is worth remembering that a McCain has fought in every American war since 1776" It's difficult to forget when that is what is touted every ten seconds from the campaign. It seems they need some humility, even though military servicemen deserve to be treated with honor, it is quite dishonorable to use it as a means to obtain a government position. Had Senator McCain not served in the military would he still be able to run on his record based on accomplishments in the senate? His military service should be viewed from all angles including one that A) foresees his service as a liability for unending war and B) someone who is too cozy with American exceptionalism.

    September 5, 2008 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  11. Quinn, Portland OR

    Senator McCain looks great for a dual centenarian!

    September 5, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  12. DEMOCRATS FOR PALIN

    The Republicans are not going to pamper him and protect him the way the Clinton campaign did.

    September 5, 2008 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  13. Moe, NY

    Yawn...glad that speech is over with...same old...same old. This man cannot fix America, he is part of the problem.

    September 5, 2008 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  14. ben

    There is something I do not understand. Why would an enemy nation, during a war offer to release a prisoner because his father was an admiral? What kind of a deal was the admiral proposing? Please some one of you bloggers may be able to tell me how the son of a high ranking
    officer was so priviliged?

    September 5, 2008 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  15. Wes

    Where you listening to the same speech I was? John McCain once again rates our respect for his courage and sacrifice while a POW, but that does not mean he should lead this country. If it were 2000, I'd vote for him, but this is 2008 and in my humble opinion he has sold out as the Palin selection glaringly demonstrates. She's no reformer, she's an opportunist. How she can still stand up and tell bald faced lies is amazing. She exists in a constant state of denial. With many qualified GOP women to chose from he picks her? Bad choice John, you lost this independent voter's vote.

    September 5, 2008 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  16. PROUD DEMOCRAT IN MINNESOTA

    aaron;it's obvious you don't listen to OBAMA he's said plenty of times he will stick to the constitution(constitutional law professor)and he would use diplomacy over force whenever possible.If we leave Iraq we will be saving 10 billion per month we can use that to start paying off some of that national debt. so PLEASE do a better job of listening next time OBAMA/BIDEN "08"

    September 5, 2008 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  17. al

    Bravo aaron. Could not have said it better. Unfortunately we know the "changes" you outlined will not be pursued. And we know why. This whole show is not about making ours a better country. It is all about power and WINNING. Never mind our country.

    September 5, 2008 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  18. Chris from NY

    Gergen you sound like a double minded person sometimes. As old as you are, are you that gaullible to shoot straight? I hate hypocrites like you. Say what you mean and mean what you say. At least that's what I like about Bill Scheinder.

    September 5, 2008 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  19. Fed up with the lies

    Mr. Gergen I have listened to you for years and have the utmost respect for your opinion; but in this blog, I don't have a clue where you're headed. Either Sen. McCain had a good speach or he didn't. It can't be both ways. This is a man with nothing more than an...ooops I got shot down and did prison time in Viet Nam; to being elected Senator to one of God's mistakes (Arizona) for about thirty years! He has no "executive experience" to brag about and after selecting a woman he met once to run with him...I think that about sums up his mental state. So please; come out with an opinion and leave the wishy washy stuff to folks who try to make "Coal" sound like "Clean Coal".

    September 5, 2008 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  20. No Way, No How, No George McCain!

    I don't know if I was more board or let down that their was not more of a focus on the issues. I dont want to hear what McCain thinks about Obama and I really don't want to hear about his war record again!

    September 5, 2008 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  21. PROUD DEMOCRAT IN MINNESOTA

    ;it's obvious you don't listen to OBAMA he's said plenty of times he will stick to the constitution(constitutional law professor)and he would use diplomacy over force whenever possible.If we leave Iraq we will be saving 10 billion per month we can use that to start paying off some of that national debt. so PLEASE do a better job of listening next time( AARON) OBAMA/BIDEN "08"

    September 5, 2008 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  22. Joseph, Los Angeles

    Mr. Gergen, What are you thinking sir? Formidable; I think not.

    September 5, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  23. John G.

    I share your desire for less partisan rancour. For that, McCain deserves high marks.

    Those who find his speach "boring" would likely be criticising him if it were a more entertaining speech for the lack of substance. He actually provided a more detailed economic plan that Obama did last week.

    September 5, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  24. Peter

    I too was wondering how you could level substantial criticism at his speech, and then casually drop an "A." Amazing the level of spin necessary to "not seem partisan" and to "keep the race close." I thought an A meant flawless. Now we're handing out "A"s to meh speeches?

    September 5, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  25. last shot

    I don't trust him and trully believe that he spoke in that way because we all know that this is probably his last shot at the white house. He clearly had said a few months that "the economy has not one of his strenghts".
    Also, was is so wrong to have a Ivy league education, especially when you are economically disadvantage, and black? See, Obama was right:" John McCain and the republicans, just don't get it."

    September 5, 2008 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
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