How terrible? Kerry-in-2004 terrible. The insta-joke is, "How long before Palin drops him from the ticket?"
The weird little smiles, the stumbling over words, the most basic rhythms of spoken English eluding him—all that was to be expected, but that the speech itself would be so poorly written was a shocker. It didn't even make sense. The "bullshit political narrative" my girlfriend Peggy Noonan likes to talk about (when she thinks the mic is off) just didn't add up.
McCain: My friends, I was tortured in Vietnam. Then I was in Washington for about 400 years, the last eight of them suckling the jackboot of a man whose name eludes me at the moment. And that's why I'm uniquely qualified to bring you that "change" thing the kids are so crazy about these days.
He seems to be making the same mistake Kerry made, presenting himself solely as a war hero, with the intervening decades in D.C. nothing but a soft-focus gauze. If he mentioned a single legislative achievement, I missed it. I can only guess that, having deployed his attack dogs the night before, he was going for more of an elevated (i.e., Obama-like) tone. But it wasn't working, not only because of his delivery, but because there were no specifics to add ballast to the platitudes he sent drifting aimlessly through the air.
I was almost rooting for him at the end when he started talking about the "forces of evil." Come on John, this is the part you love! Scaring people! Shaking your head with sadness at the Dems' pre-9/11 mind set! You can do this! But he just sort of fizzled out, rousing himself slightly only at the end for what was supposed to be the killer tag line that he hoped would be today's headlines: "Fight with me!"
Fight with him? It almost doesn't seem like a fair fight at this point.