The Corner

Federalist McCain

“He’s old.” That was among the underwhelmed reactions I got when asking people what they thought of John McCain’s speech to the Federalist Society yesterday. 

Well, the Arizona senator is 70 – but it speaks more to his presentation than his actual years on the planet. Like on Meet the Press this past Sunday, the 2008 explorer just seemed exhausted. And while happy to blame those in government for their losses last week, he…well he fell into reading Federalist Paper quotes familiar since grade-school Social Studies class. It was less than inspirational.

Former Soliciter General Ted Olson, on the other hand, gave a gracious, moving introduction, in large part about McCain’s brave service in Vietnam, where he was captured and torture. McCain would have wowed the crowd had he left his appearance at Olson’s intro, told his chairman Mao joke, and walked out the backdoor. Instead he left some Federalists yawning.

When you contrast it to Mitt Romney’s spirited presentation to the same crowd last year — he gave a jazzed-up stump speech, but in a bit of a conservative-elite-crowd breakout moment for him — I can’t help but wonder if the tired-looking McCain wishes he never bothered to ask FedSoc if he could speak this year after all.