Clearly a deliberate decision, with Palin playing the extreme right-wing attack dog, for McCain himself to avoid viciousness. That's simply smart politics, but I'll still give him credit for being gracious and decent towards the opposition. Some falsehoods, but mostly the usual misrepresentations and exaggerations, as opposed to the outright lies that Palin told yesterday.
Something that I hadn't consciously noticed before, but which has been subtly bugging me for a while: McCain can't fake a smile to save his life. He keeps on smiling broadly, but it looks utterly plastered on. As msmemory observed, it looks like the cue card said, "Smile here", so he did so, but the end result comes across as phony. I suspect he'd do better (with me, anyway) if he didn't try to smile so broadly, but just let himself be a bit more natural.
(Later: when he really gets into the meat of the speech, making threats against the powers that be in Washington, he looks much more sincerely happy -- I suspect that he's in his element when declaring a fight. And later on, he simply stops trying to smile quite so much, which helps a lot.)
PBS is *not* a friend to the Republican campaign. The cuts to the crowd notably focused on the guy with the big "McCain Votes Against Vets" sign (repeatedly), as well as a lot of bored-looking veterans. I'd bet that the editing on Fox is much more sympathetic.
Focusing very strongly on the "maverick reformer" message, and generally staying well on that message -- it's a good speech in that regard. He does best when focused on the areas where he *is* sincere: his anti-pork passion is probably quite real, and he sells that message well. The problem for him will be that, in reality, it's not as important an issue as he'd like it to be.
Honesty points to him for sticking by his pro-war stance. Despite the improvements on the ground, I still doubt that's much of a vote-winner (personally, I think his stance is still problematic), but I'll give him credit for the courage of his convictions.
There was a paragraph here about his almost comical lack of specifics, but he did eventually at least get to general policy directions. (And not all safe ones: if anyone in the teacher's unions had been planning on voting for him, he's certainly alienated them now. That said, it's one of the few areas where I actually agree with him.) Of course, he greatly exaggerates the difference between himself and Obama in energy policy -- he makes it sound like a huge gulf, where the reality is that they are both saying more or less the same things with slightly different emphases.
Good jab on opening markets abroad, to make himself out as the free-trader in the election. This is a weakness of Obama's -- by pandering to the protectionist wing of the Democrats during the primaries, he has left himself open to accusations of protectionism himself.
Ah, there's the "the world is scary and dangerous" bit. Had to happen: it's an article of faith among the neoconservatives. Of course, he's making lots of claims about his own foreign-policy background that are stretching the truth of his own experience a fair ways -- he makes himself sound like a longtime diplomat and ambassador, and AFAIK his experience there is unremarkable.
It's interesting to note that the thing that most consistently gets loud applause from the crowd is the appeals to tribal loyalties, especially the nasty anti-Democrat jabs. I suspect that the same would be true if I looked at the speeches from the DNC. That doesn't surprise me, but it does bug me profoundly.
The "stand up and fight" segment at the end was well done: a gradually building crescendo that was well-written and well-told.
Overall -- a pretty good speech. I don't know that it's going to change peoples' views of him much, but it did a good job of underscoring what he stands for, and generally came across as sincere. It may help to shore up his somewhat battered "straight talk" image, which is important to him. I expect a slight poll bounce from it, although not a big one.
(And one last note, watching the Daily Show on last night's speeches: Giuliani *still* can't make it through a single speech without invoking 9/11? I swear, it's a nervous tic...)