John McCain, a lobbyist and fixture of Congress for more than 30 years, nominee of the incumbent party and self-proclaimed foot soldier in the Reagan revolution, tried to convince Americans Thursday night that only he could bring real reform to that wretched place called Washington.

Just a day after his cohort turned a rhetorical sewer on our nation’s politics, McCain spoke of his respect and admiration for the opposition. This was a naked attempt to woo independents, many of whom were reportedly alienated by his vice presidential nominee and other speakers at the GOP convention.

McCain performed well in that role. He spoke of fighting to restore relations with Vietnam and his distaste for pork. But McCain’s most effective moment came when the Republican nominee chastised his party for letting Americans down and giving into “the temptations of corruption.”

It’s odd to see John McCain compete in a change contest with fresh faced Barack Obama, even if he also spoke at length about his experience, his patriotism and his years of torture. Perhaps if he hadn’t waited so long into the campaign to challenge his party’s dogma, hadn’t voted so consistently with the president, hadn’t changed his mind on immigration and oil drilling and, saddest of all, torture … well, that McCain would really stand for something.

Update: Neither Taegan Goddard nor Mark Halperin was very impressed with McCain’s speech, particularly in the area of delivery.

Update 2: Lots of negative reactions out there. The words “deflated” and “tired” occurred to more than one commentator.


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