Watching the speeches last night (you know, “speeches,” the things that don’t matter?), I was particularly impressed by what a poor job John McCain was doing, playing the Republican that he isn’t. The conservatives hate him, the base doesn’t care for him, the Evangelicals don’t trust him, the party elite don’t like him, even veterans won’t vote for him, and hate radio wants to raise money for Democrats against him.

All that’s left for John McCain to do is to stand up and repeat stuff he doesn’t believe. He’s trapped. At 5:44 long, it felt a lot longer, and I’m sure it was a tougher slog for McCain to deliver it that it was for any of us to listen to it.

The following is the text as prepared for delivery of Senator John McCain’s speech to supporters after the Feb. 19 Wisconsin primary, as provided his presidential campaign.

Thank you, my friends, for your support and dedication to our campaign. And thank you, Wisconsin, for bringing us to the point when even a superstitious naval aviator can claim with confidence and humility that I will be our party’s nominee for President. I promise you, I will wage a campaign with determination, passion and the right ideas for strengthening our country that prove worthy of the honor and responsibility you have given me.

I, again, want to commend Governor Huckabee, who has shown impressive grit and passion himself, and whom, though he remains my opponent, I have come to admire very much. And, of course, I want to thank my wife, Cindy, and my daughter, Meghan, who are here tonight, and the rest of my family for their indispensable love and encouragement.

If you want to see the “determination and passion,” go click on the video link, above. McCain’s gestures are more feeble than Dole’s, more ill-timed than George H. W. Bush’s. It’s a comedian’s dream and a consultant’s nightmare.

As far as Huckabee is concerned, McCain is merely the Governor’s foot-stool. Huckabee is playing this like he’s Ronald Reagan and this is 1976. The Republican primary campaign is continuing only so that Huckabee can build his network, his name-recognition, and a ready supply of Evangelical disappointment that he can mine for a later presidential bid.

McCain’s sole significance at this point is to be the foil for “Huckabee 2012!” and the senator knows it.

My friends, we have traveled a great distance together already in this campaign, and overcome more than a few obstacles. But as I said last week, now comes the hard part and, for America, the bigger decision. Will we make the right changes to restore the people’s trust in their government and meet the great challenges of our time with wisdom, and with faith in the values and ability of Americans for whom no challenge is greater than their resolve, courage and patriotism? Or will we heed appeals for change that ignore the lessons of history, and lack confidence in the intelligence and ideals of free people?

This is a really weird option for McCain to offer. On the one hand, McCain is offering to “change” by being “four more years” of George W. Bush Suck. He’s stuck. On the other hand, he paints the popular change offered by Obama as something that ignores the “intelligence and ideals of free people.”

Think about that for a second. Obama’s people-powered movement is “not trusting people.” Meanwhile, the Republicans’ pandering to creationism, voodoo economics, and climate science denial is supposed to be “trusting” in an “intelligence” that Republicans hope you don’t have. The only places where Republicans have shown good stewardship are of the dubious national resources of ignorance and fear. There’s the ignorance McCain needs. He’ll get to fear in a second.

In the meantime, McCain should fire his speechwriter immediately for sending him up with a speech that hamstrings the candidate before he even gets going.

I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than people. Our purpose is to keep this blessed country free, safe, prosperous and proud. And the changes we offer to the institutions and policies of government will reflect and rely upon the strength, industry, aspirations and decency of the people we serve.

Again: fire the speechwriter. For such a tired old man to use words like “holiday” and “history” is suicide. Furthermore, McCain went from a military career to a career in government, and now he’s telling us not to trust our government?

Are you lost, senator?

Here’s the GOP legacy that McCain wants to continue: Republican attacks on the Constitution have left us less free, Republicans continually tell us we aren’t safe, the most recent Republican recession sucks, and the face that America shows to the world is torture. You want to “keep” this, senator? Fine, keep it. You can have it. No one else wants it.

To make matters worse, McCain takes a squint around the world in a light-hearted comedy that’s guaranteed to make you stand up and leave:

We live in a world of change, some of which holds great promise for us and all mankind and some of which poses great peril. Today, political change in Pakistan is occurring that might affect our relationship with a nuclear armed nation that is indispensable to our success in combating al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere. An old enemy of American interests and ideals is leaving the world stage, and we can glimpse the hope that freedom might someday come to the people of Cuba. A self-important bully in Venezuela threatens to cut off oil shipments to our country at a time of sky-rocketing gas prices. Each event poses a challenge and an opportunity. Will the next President have the experience, the judgment experience informs, and the strength of purpose to respond to each of these developments in ways that strengthen our security and advance the global progress of our ideals? Or will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested invading our ally, Pakistan, and sitting down without pre-conditions or clear purpose with enemies who support terrorists and are intent on destabilizing the world by acquiring nuclear weapons?

Either McCain is blind or he thinks you’re dumb. Pakistan has been an obstacle to fighting al Qaeda. America’s “take our ball and go home” policy on Cuba, which exists solely to jerk off America’s wang, has frozen us out of opportunities in that country while we deal with a similarly repressive regime in China. That makes Americans look like idiots. There is no excuse for continuing this policy, but continue it will. In the meantime, McCain leaves out the details of Exxon’s legal battles with Venezuela.

There’s that ignorance I was talking about. It is the lifeblood of the Republican party.

McCain goes on to repeat George W. Bush‘s Suck’s bullshit about Obama, but Americans (outside the Republican party) aren’t that stupid. McCain can mock the alternatives and stick with these failed policies, but nobody backs a loser.

Speaking of losers, McCain reminds us all of when Daddy Left you to Die.

The most important obligation of the next President is to protect Americans from the threat posed by violent extremists who despise us, our values and modernity itself. They are moral monsters, but they are also a disciplined, dedicated movement driven by an apocalyptic zeal, which celebrates murder, has access to science, technology and mass communications, and is determined to acquire and use against us weapons of mass destruction. The institutions and doctrines we relied on in the Cold War are no longer adequate to protect us in a struggle where suicide bombers might obtain the world’s most terrifying weapons.

If you’re watching the video, check out McCain’s gesture at “no longer adequate to protect us.” It’s as bad as a school play. Here is where the McCain speech shifts in strategy from exploiting ignorance to exploiting fear. This is the place where the two are briefly mixed like santorum on the bedsheets of his victim.

But we aren’t relying on Cold War institutions and doctrines. The fact that FISA has been continually updated, for instance, is something that Republican talking-points have assumed that you don’t know. The violent extremists who hate us are only a threat to us under the incompetent leadership of Republicans. They’re the ones who left you to die on September 11th. They were the ones who were so obsessed with Iraq that they shut down counter-terrorism for eight months.

Basic competence is all we need to be safe from terrorism. Republicans don’t offer it. Instead, they hold security hostage in order to protect criminal telecom corporations. Now, they want to use the body-count of their incompetence to scare you into supporting that same incompetence. It’s a passive-aggressive protection racket, a petulant mafia that says “give me what I want or I’ll leave you to die again.”

Not gonna happen. Wouldn’t be prudent.

If we are to succeed, we must rethink and rebuild the structure and mission of our military; the capabilities of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies; the purposes of our alliances; the reach and scope of our diplomacy; the capacity of all branches of government to defend us. We need to marshal all elements of American power: our military, economy, investment, trade and technology and our moral credibility to win the war against Islamic extremists and help the majority of Muslims, who believe in progress and peace, win the struggle for the soul of Islam.

Military. Intelligence. Law Enforcement. “All branches of government.” This must be that “tired philosophy that trusts in government” you were talking about, right?

Fire. The. Speechwriter. He is driving you to suck.

You don’t win moral credibility against anyone by flip-flopping on torture. Muslims don’t care what the west has to say about “the soul of Islam,” whatever that may be. Any Muslim whom we might embrace, they will distrust. Short of just wiping them all out, you have no say.

That’s what fostering democracy abroad means: they get to choose, not you.

The best thing you can do is fuck right off. But you won’t. In some bizarro world where McCain is president, all he can do is continue George W. Bush’s Suck’s Great Fuck-Up. Speaking of which, it’s time for the economy.

The challenges and opportunities of the global economy require us to change some old habits of our government as well. But we will fight for the right changes; changes that understand our strengths and rely on the common sense and values of the American people. We will campaign:

  • to balance the federal budget not with smoke and mirrors, but by encouraging economic growth and preventing government from spending your money on things it shouldn’t; to hold it accountable for the money it does spend on services that only government can provide in ways that don’t fail and embarrass you;to save Social Security and Medicare on our watch without the tricks, lies and posturing that have failed us for too long while the problem became harder to solve;
  • to make our tax code simpler, fairer, flatter, more pro-growth and pro-jobs;
  • to reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil with an energy policy that encourages American industry and technology to make our country safer, cleaner and more prosperous by leading the world in the use, development and discovery of alternative sources of energy;
  • to open new markets to American goods and services, create more and better jobs for the American worker and overhaul unemployment insurance and our redundant and outmoded programs for assisting workers who have lost a job that’s not coming back to find a job that won’t go away;
  • to help Americans without health insurance acquire it without bankrupting the country, and ruining the quality of American health care that is the envy of the world;
  • to make our public schools more accountable to parents and better able to meet the critical responsibility they have to prepare our children for the challenges they’ll face in the world they’ll lead.

Now I understand why McCain has admitted time and again that he doesn’t know anything about economics. That was the saddest part of the whole speech. The squirm-factor in the room was going through the roof, because this is the part where everyone in the room knows that McCain is lying. He isn’t a conservative and the conservatives know it.

“Saving” social security, for Republicans, means raiding it, and that has already been a big loser for them. A flat tax is an attack on the middle class, and they’re already fighting mad. Republicans aren’t going to change our energy policy because they’re paid not to.

Nice of McCain to repeat the “less jobs” line. “Less jobs, more war” is one that’s going to stick. No one envy’s the American healthcare system, although foreign wealthy people often cherry-pick some of our medical technology. They don’t stay, and that technology isn’t available to people just because they’re “Americans.” And the schools aren’t going to get any better until you pour meaningful resources into them and stop forcing them to teach superstition in the classroom. That’s an act of fraud.

In short, McCain can’t change any of these things. He doesn’t believe in the changes he’s talking about, and he’s part of the problem in the first place. Senator Problem is going to change himself? A change that Senator Problem doesn’t like? That’s rich!

Conservatives don’t trust McCain, and I don’t trust a tumor to remove itself.

But wait, he’s going into his short strokes:

I’m not the youngest candidate. But I am the most experienced. I know what our military can do, what it can do better, and what it should not do. I know how Congress works, and how to make it work for the country and not just the re-election of its members. I know how the world works. I know the good and the evil in it. I know how to work with leaders who share our dreams of a freer, safer and more prosperous world, and how to stand up to those who don’t. And I know who I am and what I want to do.

I don’t seek the office out of a sense of entitlement. I owe America more than she has ever owed me. I have been an imperfect servant of my country for many years. I have never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I haven’t been proud of the privilege. Don’t tell me what we can’t do. Don’t tell me we can’t make our country stronger and the world safer. We can. We must. And when I’m President we will.

Thank you, and God bless you.

“God bless you”? No, God help you, senator. The laugh-track of history will not be kind.

So there you have it. A party in disarray. A candidate who doesn’t know who he is. All aboard the Straight-Jacket Express!

Um, all aboard?

Anyone there?

Hello?

.

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