UPDATED: The thing is no one is happy. The air has been sucked out of this conference. Those applauding during his speech were McCain's people. Brought in, positioned in the middle of the room.
The din in the crowd as I walk around is folks don't want to vote for McCain. The only saving grace, I hear, is that he'll be tough on Isalmothugs. On this , I vehemently disagree. McCain does what's politically expedient. If it's politically expedient to talk to Assad, he will. If it's politically expedient to talk to Ahmadinejad , he will. If he could make a deal with "Splash" Kennedy on immigration, he could make a deal devil.
Brian Faughnan blogging for the Weekly Standard is on my right. Lovely fellow. Great coverage of all things McCain. His speech was an attempt to "reach out" ......I am unmoved. McCain's selling point here is Obama ... he will be the Democratic nominee.
McCain the Humble Conservative Weekly Standard
John McCain's speech seems to be going over pretty well with the portion of the audience that's open to being swayed. There's at least one McCain opponent here at Blogger's Corner who confessed that the speech didn't matter; he just hates McCain. Among the rest, the response seems pretty positive.
Jim Geraghty says it seemed to get a warm reception. Kathryn Jean Lopez says he did what he needed to do. Erick Erickson calls it the 'best speech' that McCain has given this season and Ed Morrissey says it was an excellent speech that reached out to conservatives 'in a heartfelt manner.'
I tend to agree. Overall, I think he came across as somewhat humble and respectful of his conservative critics -- which represents an important change. A key passage (as far as I'm concerned) is this:
Surely, I have held other positions that have not met with widespread agreement from conservatives. I won't pretend otherwise nor would you permit me to forget it. On the issue of illegal immigration, a position which provoked the outspoken opposition of many conservatives, I stood my ground aware that my position would imperil my campaign. I respect your opposition for I know that the vast majority of critics to the bill based their opposition in a principled defense of the rule of law. And while I and other Republican supporters of the bill were genuine in our intention to restore control of our borders, we failed, for various and understandable reasons, to convince Americans that we were. I accept that, and have pledged that it would be among my highest priorities to secure our borders first, and only after we achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure, would we address other aspects of the problem in a way that defends the rule of law and does not encourage another wave of illegal immigration.
McCain's biggest problem with conservatives so far seems to have been his style -- the way he flaunted his differences with them, and impugned their motives. The tack he took today will serve him well. Over time, it might be sufficient to quiet the doubts and fears that he has provoked to date.
I think the speech overall showed why McCain can be a very strong candidate in the general election. When the mood strikes him, he can mount a strong appeal to conservatives -- on national security, spending, taxes, judges, and other issues. On spending in particular, he and Ron Paul are probably the only elected officials who come across as even remotely credible in promising to reduce federal spending.
McCain the Conservative Brian Faughnan
Did Congressional Quarterly time this piece so that conservatives would be reading it the day that John McCain effectively became the nominee of the Republican party? They consider what President McCain's domestic agenda might look like next year, if there's a Democratic Congress:
But when he is with the Democrats, he is really with them. McCain is not someone who simply reaches across the aisle to form coalitions with the other side. He walks across the aisle, puts on the other team’s uniform and sings the other team’s fight song...
This will be a full partnership of the president and the Congress, who just happen to be of different parties.
'A full partnership' is clearly an exaggeration; John McCain disagrees with Democrats on too many domestic policy issues -- from judge, to taxes, to spending -- to enter into any kind of partnership with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Furthermore, Congressional Democrats will spend the next 8 months savaging John McCain, and trying to convince the American people that McCain is more conservative and out of touch than George Bush. And if he is sworn in, from day one they'll be working to ensure that he's a one-term president.
So there's not going to be any partnership.
That said, there are clearly plenty of conservatives that think CQ has it exactly right. A major task for McCain over the next 8 months is to convince them that Congressional Quarterly has got it exactly wrong.
I am one of those conservatives.