John McCain’s Concession Speech

Posted by Katherine | November 7, 2008 – 4:33 pm
McCain concession speech
Conceding [janeyhenning / Flickr]

McCain was widely praised by mainstream media and political blogs for a gracious concession speech, though sometimes with a footnote that it contrasted in tone with his campaign. Those same two sentiments were largely reflected on regular blogs.

Broodingcynyc at Brooding Cynyx voted for McCain and felt his speech was deeply respectful.

John McCain proved himself a great man in his concession speech, and an even greater American. Amid the occasional boos shot from the crowd, Senator McCain demonstrated character that made me proud of my country. It made me proud of the man that I supported. It has also shown me that if a man who fought so hard to become our President, can give his support to his opponent of this election season, surely we all can? If we cannot, then we can take in the historic moment that Barack Obama has given America in his election as the first African-American President.

Brittany “voted for Obama, campaigned for Obama, and supported Obama,” but after the two speeches on election night, McCain was the one she wanted to thank.

I hated your campaign. I really did. I thought some of your smear tactics were repugnant (though not unexpected). HOWEVER. Your speech on Tuesday was one of the most gracious and humbling sights I have seen in a long time. I appreciated the way you tried to calm down your most fervent supporters when they wanted to drum up antagonism and ill will. You turned a potentially divisive and hostile situation into a plea for this country’s unity and support for our next President. You accepted your loss with grace and I am grateful that you consider it your duty, and the duty of every citizen, to support and advise the President on the issues at stake. […]

I hope we all strive to demonstrate your humility and grace in the face of defeat. Thank you, sir.

Jeff Weintraub is a social and political theorist who teaches at U Penn. He calls himself a democratic socialist. For him, the speech recalled a side of McCain he hadn’t seen during the latter part of the campaign.

John McCain’s concession speech last night was impressively gracious, eloquent, visibly heartfelt, and (how else can one put it?) genuinely patriotic. This sounded like the John McCain whom many had come to admire over the years […]

It was an honorable and valuable end to a campaign that (honesty compels me to add) deserved to lose.

For environmental activist Bill Hewitt, McCain’s speech started him daydreaming about some bipartisan cooperation on global warming.

Watching John McCain’s concession speech the other night, I was struck by the sincerity in his pledge to help the new President with the work ahead. […]

McCain has a track record on climate change. He was one of the first, and still among the relatively few, Congressional Republicans to support a cap-and-trade regime. […]

He could and should play the role in the Senate, and beyond that, in his party, of an outspoken proponent of tough climate change legislation. Given their losses on Tuesday, the Republican Party could very well circle the wagons and let extremists like Jim Inhofe lead their efforts […] So it could very well fall to McCain, and I think to the outspokenly progressive moderate Republican Senators from Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, to help bring their caucus into line with the stunning reality of what we’re up against.

Finally, a line-item critique. Leonard Nolt has visited all but four states in the Union and would like to visit Iceland. He grew up without TV and has a problem with books following him home from the bookstore. Leonard thought McCain’s speech was “clearly stronger” than Obama’s and that he “seemed to harbor no bitterness and expressed what appeared to be genuine and unselfish support for the winner.” That said, he wasn’t impressed with an aspect of McCain’s patriotism.

McCain said, “Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this..the greatest nation on earth.” I have no problem with people valuing their citizenship in any country. But what scale of measurement is McCain using to conclude that the United States is “the greatest nation on earth?” […] How do we measure “greatness?” Is it comparable to wealth or destructive potential? If so than perhaps the US is the “greatest” nation on earth. We are more wealthy than most other nations, although there are countries with fewer poor people. We also have more destructive potential, but that’s because we invest more of our resources in developing our ability to destroy other peoples or countries. […] Certainly our treatment of slaves and our destruction of many Native American cultures and peoples are not signs of greatness. […] Neither was our war against the Vietnamese, nor is the current war against the Iraqi people a sign of greatness. […] We spend more on health care but don’t live as long as people in many other industrialized nations. We have much less support for families from business and government than any country in western Europe. The gap between the minority rich and majority middle and poor classes is increasing. […] So what does McCain mean by “greatest?”

Leonard also took Obama to task for saying “God bless the United States of America” rather than asking for a blessing on the whole planet.


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