My August 2, 2008 Letter to the Editor: "Little straight talk from McCain"

Commentary by Timothy Horrigan; August 5, 2008

This is a letter I wrote on July 25, 2008 in response to a July 24 editorial by my local paper, The Dover (NH) Foster's Daily Democrat. You can get a pretty good idea of what the editorial said just from my letter: they were praising John McCain's July 22 speech in Rochester, NH. The original URL (subject to decay over time) for the editorial was

I was at the speech and had a very different impression of it than the Foster's editorial board. I didn't even agree with their crowed estimate: they claimed there were 700 in the Rochester Opera House and an overflowing throng outside. I estimated about 500 in the hall and it looked to me like everyone who wanted to go inside could go inside. There were a few empty seats, actually. (In spite of the size of the crowd, which was shockingly small for a major-party Presidential nominee: it was effective political theatre. The visuals, featuring a beautiful little auditorium and a honking huge flag backdrop, were great and he got a few sound bites on the news.)

I wrote about the speech at some length on DailyKos and also on this web site. The original URL for the Foster's letter, which appeared on Saturday, August 2, was:

Little straight talk from McCain

To the editor: Your editorial writer began his or her July 24 editorial by exclaiming, "The Straight Talk express rolled into Rochester and 700 or more people were there to greet John McCain and cheer them on."

The crowd was not that large, it was vastly smaller than the crowds attracted by Barack Obama, and not all of us were there to cheer him on. Even his supporters were rather lukewarm in their enthusiasm.

Neither of our state's Republican U.S. Senators showed up, and Sen. Sununu, who is up for re-election, didn't even bother to send campaign workers to the event.

We heard very little straight talk from Sen. McCain. He made rather vicious comments about Sen. Obama which would have gotten him gaveled out of order if he said them during Senate proceedings, his command of the facts was shaky at best, and he said many things which simply aren't true, e.g., that we are winning the war.

Although he took some pains to distance himself from Bush and Cheney, he was talking straight, however, when he affirmed his commitment to maintaining their permanent war in Iraq. He won't send our troops home until we achieve quote-unquote "Victory" but he refuses to say what it is he is trying to win by keeping them there.

There evidently will be no "Victory" declared while President McCain is our commander in chief.

Oddly, the McCain campaign made calls to Democrats and undeclared voters in advance of the event, and the event was hosted by a group (not a very prominent one) called "Democrats for McCain." Even though I am a staunch Democrat who is in fact running for the state Legislature, I was called and invited by a paid telemarketer working for McCain's national campaign headquarters.

Another surprisingly invited guest was Barbara Hilton, the prominent local peace activist who had a 10-minute-long dialogue about the war, in a dramatic incident which attracted worldwide attention even though it evidently escaped your reporters' and editors' notice. (She, by the way, recently left the Democratic Party in frustration over its refusal to hold President Bush and Vice President Cheney accountable for their war crimes.)

Timothy Horrigan


See Also:

 A few days later, on August 9, 2008, I got an angry reply from the wife of the UNH professor who introduced McCain on the 21st. I was flattered.

I stand by my audience-size estimate (which was about 500.) I have met Captain Scott Dumas of the Rochester Police Dept., and he is a good cop— but his estimate of 700 in the hall plus an overflow throng of 300 out front is hard to believe given the fact that there were numerous empty seats and given the fact that the official capacity of the hall is 600. In any case, even 1000 is not an impressive crowd for a major party nominee. And many of those who might have been hanging around outside the hall must have been picketers and media personnel who didn't even want to go inside.

Original URL for August 9 Letters to the Editor (subject to link rot as time goes by):

McCain is the one likely to end gridlock

To the editor: Were Mr. Horrigan and I at the same McCain event in Rochester on July 22nd? (Letter to the Editor, August 5).

According to the Rochester Police Captain Scott Dumas there were seven hundred in attendance and six hundred turned away. There was enough enthusiasm to make me feel it might have been easier to remain standing than to continuously get up for standing ovations.

The most surprising part of Mr. Horrigan's letter was that he disparaged the McCain campaign's inviting to the event Democrats and undeclared voters, including Barbara Hilton, a local peace activist. Perhaps Fosters should have mentioned Ms. Hilton's lengthy, prepared statement protesting the war in Iraq. But then, perhaps Mr. Horrigan should have noted that Senator McCain, after politely responding to her, gave her the microphone two additional times to allow her as much time as she wanted to express her opinion or ask more questions, meanwhile silencing the audience that booed her.

Even the Boston Globe, in referring to her as an "aggressive questioner," stated that McCain's "willingness to let her present an opposing view at length has long been a trademark of his town hall events."Wouldn't it be refreshing if Barack Obama were more comfortable interacting with people at town hall meetings as opposed to delivering set speeches? Obama didn't even take audience questions at his recent National Urban League Conference presentation. Senator McCain, though hardly among staunch supporters there, did take audience questions when he addressed that body.

Which man shows more willingness to deal with those of all opinions? Which man is, therefore, more likely to end Washington's gridlock? If you know Senator McCain's long-standing record of bipartisan legislation, you already know the answer.

Linda Condon


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