As a speaker, John McCain had no hope of pulling off a capstone convention speech like his Democratic rival Barack Obama. The Republican presidential nominee could not completely banish the minor verbal stumbles that sometimes mark his campaign speeches, and his party's internal security apparatus apparently could not banish the opposition protesters who infiltrated the convention hall and repeatedly interrupted the speech and made everyone nervous. And besides, McCain was never going to get the added energy of being surrounded by 70,000 fans in a giant stadium while being filmed by CNN's $100,000 hovercam. But McCain's lack of polish might as well have been by design. He was far from an unelectable, W-level bumbler, but rough enough that he can now keep calling himself the underdog, and continue framing Obama as a fancy arrogant elitist. He even manages to look slightly heroic — to some, at least — while doing so.

McCain's aggressive promotion of drilling, even amid falling oil prices, also showed the "maverick" wasn't above the sort of pandering-to-the-base Obama more smoothly engaged in a week ago. He said Obama lacked "scars," supposedly the sort that come from partisan trench warfare but also a word chosen to remind everyone the younger Democrat was never in a Vietnamese prison camp.

But those who have not heard McCain's story of bravery in Vietnam repeated ad nauseam on the campaign trail will be touched by the effective retelling included, along with one of the swipes at Obama, in the clip above. And the candidate tied the story cleverly into his campaign for president, holding it up as an example of how he puts his country ahead of himself (and neatly sidestepping the question of how selfless McCain was in his personal life).


Then the Republican nominee had to go and basically say his humbleness is a sharp contrast to Obama, who thinks he's the Democratic Jesus, "anointed to personal greatness." We told you Obama would soon regret his high-minded pledge not to question the motives of his political opponents. Sigh.