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The General Election Kicks Off: Godzilla Vs. Bambi

How bad was John McCain's speech in New Orleans Tuesday night? Here are some reviews:

(1) [T]his speech is a mash and tough to digest. You have to get through the self-congratulatory praise of independence and commander-in-chief pose….

(2) McCain’s speeches don’t have to sound this bad, and don’t always sound this bad.

(3) McCain's speech was creaky, ungracious, and unnecessary.

(4) [H]is refrain punctuated with a forced smile just isn't working.

(5) McCain's delivery deadens [the speech] somehow.

(6) As a performance, it's a little painful.

(7) Question: Would you rather: a) watch last night's McCain speech? Or b) be waterboarded?

Okay, but those are all lefty partisans, right? Actually, it's all from National Review. Rolling Stone's take is pitch-perfect: "It's like watching the out-takes from an Andy Rooney kvetch."

McCain's stilted delivery, unfortunately nasal timbre, and creepy grin are problems beyond his campaign's control, but other problems are entirely unforced. His handlers seem unwilling to restrain their candidates' obvious loathing of his opponent and unable to distinguish between a clear, incisive point and incessant, petty sneering — the kind that's incomprehensible to anybody who doesn't closely follow political inside baseball. Both these campaign flaws make McCain deeply and viscerally unappealing. (The toxic influence of Michael Goldfarb already taking hold?)

And their choice of visual presentation is simply inexplicable. Matthew Yglesias notes "he's shifted his aesthetic from his old black and white 'fascist' aesthetic [see here] to a new green and white Islamofascist aesthetic [see right]." Okay, that's unfair, but a campaign in 2008 that would deliberately choose anything other than a red, white, and (especially) blue color palette clearly has screws loose.

But the McCain campaign's worst decision of all was to try to have their guy deliver their awful speech awfully in front of a tiny audience, minutes before this happened:

The review of Obama's speech from National Review went like this: "Aesthetically, politically, rhetorically etc, it boiled down to Godzilla versus Bambi. And, amazingly enough, McCain was Bambi." And here's their criticism: "U2's 'Beautiful Day'… is playing at the Barack Obama rally. No Americans write music Obama likes?" In other words, it's not going to be a close election.

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