Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Once again (the first time being his pick of Sarah Palin), John McCain comes up with politics in place of policy. Two days before the first presidential debate, a few more days after declaring the "fundamentals of the economy are strong," he announces the "suspension" of his campaign in order to return to Washington to solve the economic crisis. He calls upon Barack Obama to do the same. And, incidentally, to postpone said debate.
To many, no doubt, it appears über-Presidential: let's come together for the good of the country. Pretty much sticks it to Obama no matter what his response. As usual, however, with McCain there's less there than meets the eye.
First of all, it turns out the initial overture was from Obama: moreover, as would be most appropriate, the contact was private which, I infer, was an attempt to avoid politicizing the situation. Do something positive. Let's get together a joint statement, he suggested. "Oh, yeah?" said McCain. "You wanna get all reasonable on me?.... Watch THIS."
And here's the thing: at this stage, neither Obama nor McCain have a role as Senators, in Washington, because it's in committee; that's the way it works. For them to show up, cameras a-flashin,' will do nothing but distract from the established process. But since when would that matter to McCain? To let the process work without trying to grab the headlines, well, that would be, like, I don't know, putting country first.
There's precedent. In a previous campaign, when McCain "parachuted" into DC in a similar way, he got into a bit of a dust-up with a fellow Republican, leading to one of his famous McPOW f-bombs.
So once again, we can choose our future: Obama made a behind-the-scenes attempt at agreement with McCain so they'd appear together to address the situation calmly and helpfully. McCain turned it into political theater. Reactions are predictable. It won't help get to a solution. Will it help get him votes (which, most certainly, is the real reason for the maneuver)? We'll see. It's only the second most cynical thing he's done in the past few weeks. We know from the first that people are easily distracted by shiny objects.
If McCain wins, we are so screwed....
[Update: a little more info, reinforcing my view.]
[Another update: smart guys weigh in.]
[Still another: Obama's press conference on the subject.]