Aperture magazine at the Republican National Convention, Night 4
John McCain and Sarah Palin, September 4, 2008. Republican National Convention. Xcel Center, St. Paul, Minnesota. Photo by Jon Winet
David Levi Strauss, Aperture magazine contributing editor, noted writer, and current Chair of MFA Art Criticism and Writing Department, School of Visual Arts, shares his unique perspective via daily dispatches from the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
No Country for Old Men
John McCain returned to form last night, snatching defeat from the jaws of a victorious convention. His speech was remarkably tone-deaf and stale. “Everyone has something to contribute”? Don’t worry, we’ll find you “a new job that won’t go away”? “We’re all God’s children and we’re all Americans”? Karl Rove must be tearing out his ear hairs. His minions had decked the hall for two nights with fresh red meat, and McCain poured warm milk all over it. The only hope left for his part of the Party is for the revenge and resentment agenda to leapfrog over Grandpa’s corpse.
McCain’s speech had “Old & In the Way” written all over it. He veered from platitude to bad attitude like a drunken sailor. When Thompson and Huckabee and Giuliani and Palin recounted McCain’s moving story as a P.O.W., it sounded noble and true. When he told it himself, it sounded like Gramps nattering on about his glory days.
When he was finally finished, his image men projected big flowing red and white flag bars behind him, recalling George C. Scott’s last speech in Patton, in decline, having become a caricature of his former self. Signal the balloon drop.
The youngest Palin daughter did her plucky best, appearing briefly onstage in a brown sack, looking like Joan of Arc, but it was too late. Her mother now looked for all the world like McCain’s third wife, elbowing aside his current fake glamorous billionaire CEO second wife. And McCain’s mother looked lost in a hail of red, white, and blue balloons. C-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-e Good Times, Come On!
It was all very sad. McCain retired early, leaving Sarah Palin behind to sign autographs, contemplating a future that will, God willing, never come.
Filed on Friday, Sept. 5, 2008, after the last night of the Republican Convention in St. Paul.