Well, he's no Sarah Palin. Or Barack Obama. Then again, John McCain has never been like anybody else.
The war hero and political maverick accepted his nomination for President last night with a speech best described as workmanlike. No one will accuse him of eloquence.
A day after Palin rocked the convention with a star-turning performance, McCain offered a sluggish, disjointed follow. At times halting and plodding, he was, as usual, uncomfortable with the spoken word for the nearly 50 minutes he was on stage.
Even allowing for low expectations, McCain fell short in content as well as delivery. It didn't help that before he could get going, hecklers interrupted with protests against the war.
When he got back to work, McCain took a scattershot approach that had me looking for themes. I didn't find any as he launched into a series of code words and hot-button phrases.
He sounded more ritualistic than enthusiastic when he promised the rule of law and judges who do not legislate from the bench while decrying failed school bureaucracies and high taxes. No wonder the party's base doubts his convictions.
His passion was clear, however, for achieving victory in Iraq and cleaning up Washington, saying forcefully that his party "lost the trust of the American people."
Mostly, he sought to burnish his reputation for personal rectitude and having a commitment to national security. Those are his strong suits, and he hammered them effectively in a bid to woo independent voters.
But only at the end, when he mixed in brutal details of his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, did he approach an inspired coherence that was truly moving.
"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in somebody else's," he said, making a heartfelt pledge that his presidency would be guided by putting America first.
It was an emotional ending to an otherwise disappointing speech.
While Palin's sensational performance Wednesday started to move the GOP beyond the Bush-Cheney era, elections are won or lost at the top of the ticket and the 72-year-old McCain remains at a disadvantage against Obama.
Although he has kept the polls close because voters trust him more than Obama to keep them safe, it's a tough year for Republicans and McCain suffers from a serious charisma deficit.
McCain also may be a victim of his own success. He gets credit for pushing for the surge of troops in Iraq, but because American casualties have dropped, the issue has fallen from the top of voter concerns, and that limits McCain's political gains.
Meanwhile, the slumping economy has become issue No. 1 and McCain has been hesitant and ineffective on the topic. Unless he can find the right policies and make a better presentation, it could be a killer in November.
He made only token gestures last night, promising compassion, but proposed nothing new and offered no details on his existing plans. Indeed, he only skimmed the surface on most subjects, a curious decision given the huge audience in the hall and on national television.
Here's hoping ...
McCain, of course, has been left for dead before, politically and otherwise. But to go the distance this time, he must answer the Dem refrain that he represents a continuation of Bush's economic policies in a year when voters demand change.
He can do that only by pulling a Palin-esque surprise on the economy - presenting fresh, compelling ideas. So far, he hasn't.
Obama certainly is not home free on his economic proposals. His vague plan to raise a number of taxes presents an inviting target, but McCain will have to do better than just attack Obama.
Americans aren't satisfied with the status quo and are likely to elect the man who offers them the most hope and help. John McCain was not that man last night.