Monday, October 13, 2008


John McCain has a new stump speech (read it here or here). It includes nineteen occurrences of some form of the word "fight"; like McCain's convention speech, it's clearly meant to be rousing and martial and upbeat, the words of a scrappy underdog rather than an attack dog. It's an improvement over his recent speeches.

Yet I find this passage odd:

I know what fear feels like. It's a thief in the night who robs your strength.

I know what hopelessness feels like. It's an enemy who defeats your will.

I felt those things once before. I will never let them in again. I'm an American. And I choose to fight.

I realize this is meant to be standard-issue uplift, Churchill mixed with Hemingway, and informed by McCain's biography.

But that "I am an American" is a jarring note. Is it just ordinary patriotic hoo-hah, a suggestion that somehow only Americans have courage or ever stick up for themselves? Or is it specifically aimed at Barack Obama, a lingering hint that he not only isn't a fighter for you but isn't really an American?

And if that's the subtext, what to make of the fact that this comes just after "a thief in the night who robs your strength" and "an enemy who defeats your will"? In other words, a street thug and a Muslo-commie-whatever? Is McCain saying Obama won't protect you from such threats, or that he embodies such threats?

The succubus subtext is creepy, too -- "robs your strength" and "defeats your will," "never let them in again."

I know McCain is talking about the mental anguish of captivity. I know he's telling the crowd that his (Christlike?) struggle with despair strengthened him to fight against theirs. But is he linking Obama to his captors? Is Obama, in McCain's rhetoric, still the supernaturally evil Other?

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