November 05, 2008
Last night we heard two speeches, a concession by Senator John McCain, and a victory speech by President-Elect Barack Obama. In reality I’m sure there were four speeches. A victory speech by Mr. McCain, and a concession by Mr. Obama in addition to the ones we heard.
Through watching West Wing, television fantasy to be sure, but illustrative, and reading about the speech President Nixon would have delivered had the Apollo Eleven astronauts met with disaster on the surface of the moon, I understand that the world often times presents the opposite outcome from what was planned. A President, or other public figure, needs to be prepared for either outcome. This means some time ago (days? weeks?) someone in each campaign was tasked with starting to put together a victory speech and also a concession speech. Certainly some details would be polished in the final hours before its presentation, but I think the body of the work would be in place well before the event.
In the case of President-Elect Obama, who writes much of his own material - he authored his two books, they weren’t ghost written - he must have been involved in the process of crafting both speeches. How difficult must it have been to shift focus from campaigning and focusing on winning, to preparing remarks to be made should the results have been different. The same holds true for Mr. McCain, may be more so. The drive and determination to keep going in the face of polls that weren’t favorable, must have made it extremely difficult to even consider drafting a concession speech.
And when it became apparent that his campaign was going to be successful, did Mr. Obama ceremoniously burn the concession speech? Or would that be tempting fate? Movies and books have made much of the superstitions in sports, particularly when a player or team is on a winning streak, do campaigns have the same kind of rites and rituals? Do Presidents?