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

Gergen: McCain shows he will be formidable


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. nic

    I am worried that the Republicans will try to put me in a concentration camp.

    September 5, 2008 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  2. Cam

    As usual, I'm sure my comment won't be posted but I'll say it anyway.

    There is nothing new here at all. I get the whole "Maverick" POW thing, but do you really want a guy who prides himself on being (not to mention being confirmed to be one by almost everyone who knows him) a loose cannon?

    Then there's a VP who won't face the media because the questions are too hard and unfair because she's a woman, but will berate a man for giving back to his community.....then hide in her own personal "cone of silence" and cry the blues.

    All I can say is the United States has a real "value system" problem if this is who you want representing you in the world and building your shattered country back to its former glory.

    Wow, if this ticket even gets close you are all crazier than I thought.

    September 5, 2008 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  3. fmr. Hillary Supporter now for McCain

    A word for Tiffany, Conserned Citizen and Patricia: Your Stupid and retarded.

    McCain/Palin '08

    September 5, 2008 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  4. Carl from MI

    You gave it a WHAT? Were we watching the same speech?

    He didn't address ANY of the issues currently facing our nation.

    His POW story is moving... I'll buy the book when it comes out.

    I want answers on how he and the Republican Party are going to fix the failed policies of the Bush Administration. By not even recognizing that there are failed policies to fix... that just proves that a vote for McCain is a vote for 4 more years of the last 8 years.

    Our nation is in the throes of turmoil.... and choosing a mouthy and snide VP AND giving tax breaks for the wealthy just aren't going to fix it. We need SERIOUS ANSWERS TO SERIOUS PROBLEMS AND ALL WE GOT TONIGHT IS MORE OF THE SAME REPUBLICAN TALKING POINTS.


    September 5, 2008 02:45 am at 2:45 am |

    Gergen, Give it an A !!!! OMG. McCain should go down in the Guiness
    Book of World Records for the number of times the man said "I", never
    we. How egotistical can a man become!!!!!!

    September 5, 2008 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  6. Esho Abiodun- Nigeria

    I cannot blame McCain for having nothing to say, He has no plans for USA but more war. He only reminded us tonight that much glory is in fighting other contries

    September 5, 2008 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  7. Rachel

    Man, Gergen, I wish you had been one of my professors in college – the speech was thin and not compelling . . . but you're giving it an A? McCain's speech was pandering and boring. His own platform wasn't winning him the election, so now he's trying to hijack Obama's message of "change," except he's offering no solutions. He's saying the same words Bush said 8 years, 4 years ago, and they're just as empty. The scary part is, there are a lot of morons out there who are easily convinced.

    September 5, 2008 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  8. Mike, San Jose, CA

    I'm tired of this. I have watched every speech and debate for the past year from both of these candidates. This independent chose Barack Obama. Yesterday was the clincher. Behind all the words is the actions and decisions the candidates make and it is clear Mr. McCain chose a wholly unqualified individual in the only real test the candidates have before election. She insulted genuine americans of every party and creed who care for their comunities. I am apalled at the lack of judgement of this VP pick. It is clear Mr. McCain does not have the people's interests at heart. Politics is more important to him. I will do ANYTHING to make sure Mr. Obama is our next leader.

    September 5, 2008 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  9. Tired of their lowroad lies

    Gergan are you at this again or were we watching the same speech ?
    I sure don't understand you we have heard that story far toooo many times and everytime it gets another twist and for those that believe his twists you must need someone to r come read you a bedtime story every night or jfallow Johns way and make it up as we go along.
    I thought we were hearing a speech for President but again nothing and I mean nothing all we know is 8 years of McBusyh and now another repeat of 4 Years of McBush .
    They are the party of trash ,hate,lies anything crooked flys w/them as long as they have Oil to fill their pockets and war.

    September 5, 2008 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  10. Candia

    Aaron, if you're interested in Obama's policy proposals (which, btw, he _has_ outlined time and again during his campaign, _and_ very markedly in his acceptance speech), may I suggest that you go to his website to inform yourself further? I don't know if the McCain campaign has done the same, but you might try.

    There is also a handy – independent – webtool (sorry I can't remember the link at the moment, but it should be "findable" via Google) that tells you exactly how Obama's tax proposals would effect you personally.

    September 5, 2008 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  11. Lois

    Honestly, I am an Obama Supporter. I am also a Pentecostal and a single mother. I work full-time, go to college full time, and I am a Sunday School teacher. McCain's speech tonight was OK. I have to admit he almost had me .... until they panned the camera to Palin. That woman scares the crap out of me. The thought that if McCain won this woman would be a heart beat away from being The Commander and Chief just frightens me. McCain is 72 years old and had 4 (count them 4) bouts with cancer. I don't care how healthy you are cancer is an evil that can kill the most healthy person in a short matter of time. Any doctor will tell you with each bout of cancer the risk of it coming back again is greater. I Pray for McCain to live a long healthy life, but the fact that he may not and Palin would be in charge .... well I guess I could never vote him. I wish he would have picked someone else for his VP

    September 5, 2008 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  12. ybln

    David is one of the few who can speak what he thinks by himself.

    September 5, 2008 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  13. braggingrights

    Thanks John Mcain son of Admiral and husband of Cindy the heir inherent of the beer industry!. Thanks for serving America with great dedication however, I have few questions. (1). Was Join Mcain the only POW in Naam or there were others unsung heroes?. (2). Mr Mcain you are over 70 years old and thats okay God has taken good care of you but lets say you just sleep but never wake up and God forbid, are you at least 50 % sure that Sarah can lead this Great Nation?. Many people are worried but they are afraid to ask such kind of questions I posed. You and the rest of the republicans talked about that, presidency is not a place for job training yet you are recruiting someone for job training! do you know how many times you have contradicted your own statements! over a hundred times!. With all respects you served this Nation with dedication let those good memories remain with the public! otherwise Karl Rove have thrown your credibility to the dogs!! God bless America and John Mcain

    September 5, 2008 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  14. Kelley

    It's called the silent majority for a reason. In the end, the Republicans are the ones who end up showing up to vote and the Republicans are the ones who pick the President.

    Obama can draw a huge crowd but when it all comes down to it, he's done.

    Republicans always win.

    September 5, 2008 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  15. go away mongers Ventura ca

    Parts of his speech was personable- most of his speech was trying to run from the very party that caused this mess- It's hard to do that when you are in their corner 9 out of 10 times!
    Barack Obama gave the speech of a lifetime one week ago tonight- It was what America NEEDS to hear- It was what America CAN be!

    September 5, 2008 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  16. peakarach,des moines,IA


    NO WAY! NO HOW! NOBAMA! ON NOV.4,2008!

    HILLARY 12!

    September 5, 2008 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  17. David P, Santa Rosa, CA

    I think the presidency was lost to the Dems two years ago. McCain is the sacraficial lamb. I once voted for him for president. That was back in the day when he actually had morals and scruples and WAS a fiesty maverick. Now, he's sold his soul (which has been difficult to watch) and he's "campaigning to the polls." This man (McCain) was on his way to greatness. He got impatient and let everyone down... most of all, himself.

    September 5, 2008 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  18. peakarach,des moines,IA


    NO WAY! NO HOW! NOBAMA! ON NOV.4,2008!

    September 5, 2008 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  19. Pat

    Kids, Kids,

    It's all in the debates. Conventions are designed to inform the newbies who are just tuning in for the first time and to tell a narrative of who the candidate is. Obama did his and now it was McCain's turn. There a 3 debates that will focus on issues. I'd rather see candidates answer questions on the fly then have prepared remarks on promises they can not keep in a speech.

    I would have liked to see them appear together in some town hall meetings this summer. I don't know why Obama kept backing out...

    September 5, 2008 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  20. peakarach,des moines,IA


    September 5, 2008 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  21. Obama Supporter

    McCain speech reminded me of my ex-husband who liked to keep talking even when I wasn't interested. If he was boring me, I would even go to sleep while he was talking and wake up to him still talking - often in the same place he was before I went to sleep. I found myself bored to sleep during McCain's speech and waking up to him saying basically the same thing, too. Honestly? He may have been saying "fight", but to me, he looks like he's already given up. The polls don't matter but the people do, and in 60 days, thankfully it will be all over and we will have the change this nation so desperately needs.

    September 5, 2008 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  22. peakarach,des moines,IA


    NO WAY! NO HOW! NOBAMA! ON NOV.4,2008.

    HILLARY 12!

    September 5, 2008 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  23. tan

    David Gergen is very well respect by many people. However, I find his comments on CNN very confusing lately. He contradicted on occasion. He gave John McCain an A grade for his speech. If you want an easy A, please go talk to Mr. Gergen. I wonder he just trying to be politically correct by not offending anyone, especially the Republican or he has known Sen. McCain too long. Senator McCain is an America hero. However, at this time of our country, we need someone we will uplifting our spirit, solve our problems and lead us to a better economy or justice for all. He did not specifically mention any of those issues. McCain is note one. I'm afraid is just following G. Bush and the Republican. We need someone who listen to the American people. Vote for Barack Obama/Joe Biden

    September 5, 2008 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  24. Arina

    McCain has fought in every American war since 1776???????????

    September 5, 2008 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  25. Mike, Vancouver

    David, I too am confused by your writing of this article. Sure McCain is a historical war hero, but really does that have any relevence today. I am glad he is all right and it is a great story. However there is a great bit "BUT" here.

    There have been many individuals who can claim the same and it doesn't matter which war you speak of present included.

    Get that out of the picture then what do we have. We have a man who is short on substance, reads Karl Rove generated speeches, lies (let's call them half truths) included.

    There is a saying in business today that goes like "What can you do for me today?". It kind of exclueds past deeds.

    I am sorry to disagree with you as I have great respect for your writings. However this one here is too incongruent for me to believe.

    September 5, 2008 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
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