Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

That was a rather listless speech by Senator McCain, though it picked up briefly at the end. I wanted to note a couple of things. First, McCain often distorted Obama’s views. He said Obama would raise taxes, when (just to repeat myself) Obama will raise taxes only on people making over $250,000 a year. Still, in that case, you can imagine a way in which you might make what he said out to be true, if you squint a bit: Obama will raise some taxes. But there’s no way to make this out to be anything but a lie::

“His plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government-run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.”

Here’s a link to Obama’s health plan. If anyone can find the part about forcing anyone into a government-run health care system, I’ll eat my hat. (Remember the controversy from the primaries about mandates, and how Obama didn’t have them?)

Second, about this, and all the talk about “The One”:

“I’m not running for president because I think I’m blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need.”

It’s worth noting that only one of the two major party candidates in this race who saw fit, in his acceptance speech, to focus our attention on his own character, to remind us that he has been his country’s servant “first, last, and always”, and to say things like: “I was never the same again. I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s.” A servant, you might think, should not draw attention to himself, or insist on his own humility. And yet, oddly, it was the other candidate who focussed not on himself but on us, on the challenges facing our country, and on what he planned to do about them.

There is also only one candidate whose speech gave the impression that simply by arriving in a place he has actually inhabited for several decades and deploying the force of his character in its general direction, he will change “the way government does almost everything”. The other one gave us not a just promise to stand up to special interests, or to show backbone and not back down, but specifics about what, exactly, he planned to do, while reminding us not just that our country was great, but why.

Finally, there was one candidate who saw fit to tell flat-out lies about his opponent’s positions. That should be no surprise, since that same candidate has previously shown himself to be willing to lie about anything, and to impugn his opponent’s patriotism. What’s odd, though, is that the candidate who did that comes from the party that goes on about how politicians have contempt for ordinary people, people who are not elites. What, I wonder, is more contemptuous than lying to their face?

Luckily, though, most people probably slept through it, and didn’t notice the insult to themselves and their intelligence.


UPDATE: Ezra nails one point I was trying to get at: “Such public declarations of patriotism are not about why John McCain loves this country. They are about why this country should love John McCain.”

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