The first reviews are in on John McCain’s eye-popping decision to suspend his campaign, scrap the debate Friday and go to Washington (where he hasn’t been seen in almost six months) amidst Wall Street’s meltdown. Most people, including political scientists and reporters, are quick to see the politics in it.
McCain’s poll numbers are dropping fast, he’s been flailing on the stump for over a week trying to figure out what to say about the economy, and in this volatile atmosphere, he just wasn’t ready to debate credit default swaps, mortgage-backed derivatives and all the other mumbo-jumbo; he has enough trouble talking about supply and demand.
With George Will skewering him and even the Wall Street Journal writing scathingly about McCain, it must have felt like time to duck and run.
A debate could be a disaster, especially with ignorant Sarah Palin going against Joe Biden next week. Palin memorizes her lines as fast as she can, but this week she’s still finding her way around the UN (that tall building on the East River, honey) and McCain won’t let her anywhere near an open mic.
Another taxpayer-scamming bailout will also bring back memories of another financial scandal which cost $200 billion and has McCain’s name all over it: the Keating Five.
Since McCain wasn’t ready to debate Barack Obama, and Palin nowhere near ready for Biden, a McCain adviser said, “Let’s buy some time. Postpone the debates, give us time to get you both ready, and we can use the financial crisis as a smokescreen. Go presidential, invoke bipartisanship; who knows, maybe it’ll work.”
And who knows, maybe it will, if the GOP spinmeisters are talented and the mainstream media stay gullible. Obama could also stumble over this ticking time bomb, but he hasn’t stumbled yet. Images, how the candidates come across to voters, will matter. So will the votes in Congress on the bailout; Rep. Barney Frank, openly-Gay chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has just told Reuters late Wednesday night that he’s almost clinched the deal and it has the votes to pass.
Way to go, Barney! You just cut McCain off at the knees. By the time he gets to the Capitol there won’t be anything left for him to “help negotiate.” If the whole thing’s done already, there’s no reason McCain can’t show up for the debate on Friday.
Footnote: George W. Bush finally emerged from hiding to go on TV tonight. I wonder if anyone watched his little speech. It’s obvious that Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke, secretary of the treasury and Federal Reserve chairman, are the people in charge of the crisis. Yesterday Dick Cheney went to the Capitol to try to sell House Republicans on the Paulson Plan, but the GOP stalwarts hooted at Cheney, so he’s now irrelevant too. A lot of Republicans sense they’re watching a train wreck, financially and in the election too. If Obama plays his cards right, this could turn into a landslide.
I bet the most important “reviews” of McCain’s performance today will come from the comedians, and one has already given a hilarious thumbs-down: David Letterman, after McCain canceled on him at the last minute. Letterman went on at some length about his respect and affection for McCain, then he barbecued him. There was obviously no script for Dave to follow, but he filled the air with pointed questions and ad-libs. HuffPo has the video, as does the L.A. Times.
I can only wonder what Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert will come up with. Bloggers and talking heads are one thing, but YouTube and Comedy Central had better be prepared for the onslaught. Those videos are going viral.++