06/12/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

McCain's Churlish, Semi-Snarky, Out-Of-Place Speech

John McCain is almost a footnote to last night's proceedings, given that he's been the presumptive Republican nominee for actual months now and last night's high drama was all about the primary season finally ending and a nomination finally emerging from the locked combat between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Instead, McCain took the opportunity to make a speech that was not only bland and boring, but marked by a weird snarkiness that seemed extremely out of place on a night that was all about a historic first — the first nominee of color for president in the history of the United States.

That narrative hasn't been a secret; smart handlers ought to have figured out what the reaction would be — all they'd have to do was look to the reaction following the Iowa primary, which prompted a non-partisan celebration that the United States had come so far that a lily-white state such as Iowa would select this man as their preferred nominee.

There will be plenty of time for McCain to attack Obama — or, I should say, to continue to attack Obama (he had done so yesterday morning from the AIPAC pulpit — or, er, bimah). Last night, coupled with the flat delivery, lame-o crowd and apparently-jarring green background (our Sam Stein has a delicate constitution), the tone of the speech just felt...wrong. (And in that context, his 'appreciation' of Clinton felt more like a swipe at Obama and a naked effort to poach her supporters.)

Fortunately for McCain, he really wasn't the focus of last night's excitement, so his speech isn't getting much attention beyond general thumbs-down (our favorite is Jeff Toobin: "That was awful! That was pathetic!"). But everything matters, and this outing served to underscore just how wooden McCain is at the mic (remember his acceptance of the nomination back in February? Yikes!).

What a missed opportunity, especially for a candidate who is generally known to be so likeable off the cuff. Here's what he should have said: "Tonight is a historic night for America, and I wish to congratulated two outstanding candidates who each made history in their own right. I look forward to beating them and all their colleagues in November." Fin. Too bad for him, last night's speech probably didn't help him down that path.

The Lime Green Monster: McCain's Speech Widely Panned [HuffPolitics]