The most virtuoso part of McCain’s performance wasn’t what he actually said — there were nods toward fiscal discipline and support for the military, with a liberal-friendly soliloquy on climate change thrown in for good measure — but the way he interacted with questioners and worked the crowd. When a Keene State University student took the microphone and hammered McCain for agreeing to speak at Liberty U, McCain listened patiently, politely disagreed, and then let the student lay into him again. Later, when a nervous-looking woman got up to read a resolution calling for George W. Bush’s impeachment and was roundly booed by the crowd, McCain ordered the peanut gallery to pipe down — not once, but twice — and then thanked her politely.
Here’s the cynical take on the latter exchange: by refusing to address the specifics of the resolution in question, McCain played it safe. And here’s a more generous reading: since our current president lectures critics like an angry adult chastising wayward children, McCain’s willingness to respectfully hear out someone with whom he almost certainly disagrees was a refreshing change of pace.
When it was over, McCain edged slowly toward the exit, posing for snapshots, signing books, and taking questions from the throng of reporters who pressed toward him as if it was the middle of an election year. The McCain myth looked to be intact.
On the Web:
Adam Reilly's Talking Politics blog: http://www.thephoenix.com/talkingpolitics/
Senator John McCain: http://mccain.senate.gov/
Senator John McCain's Straight Talk America: http://www.straighttalkamerica.com/
: Talking Politics
, McCain, 2008 Republican nomination, Voltaire, More