Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Smoke Jumper

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 ├╝ber-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.]


  1. I respectfully disagree, I think its a good idea for him to ask for a rain check on the debate. The republican party is not going to vote against him on the economy issue because they know it would seriously damage the campaign. I'm sure he knows this and before he starts running his mouth he probably wants to get all the facts, and make sure he is on the same page as the rest of his party. Otherwise he could have very well wound up advocating for something that was a suboptimal solution. But everyone on his side would have went along if they liked it or not, so that his campaign wasn't destroyed over the issue. I think his choice to delay was responsible and smart especially over a issue as critical as a near trillion dollar bailout.

  2. anon: the reasons I don't agree are several: the plan needs hammering out, and the people doing it are those who're more involved, ie, on the banking committee, etc. His presence won't aid that. Once there's a tentative plan, THEN is the time for other senators to weigh in. I absolutely agree with you that a trillion dollar plan needs more debate and input than Bush would have had it; but until the time for real debate, the presence of either candidate would be distraction.

    It's already become a talking point, but I happen to agree that a potential president ought to be able to handle more than one thing at a time. Of course, things like this break along party lines (which, in my opinion, proves the point about political distraction); Dems say it's a stunt and a distraction, a response to falling polls; Reps say it shows his leadership (although I wonder of Cornyn has changed his opinion since last time.)

    I also think it makes sense to think that having a hundred million or so tune in to see what these guys have to say is needed. The debate is supposed to be about foreign policy; but this crisis has huge world-wide implications as well.

    Finally, I find it interesting/amusing/highly suspect that McCain has suggested moving the debate to next Thursday, the day of the VP debate. Think the puppetmastering of Sarah isn't going well?

  3. The only thing McCain and Obama need to do at this point are to show up for the forthcoming vote. They both have dismal voting records (McCain has about an 80% absentee rate - so much for country first through 80th).

    Bush asked them both to the White House tomorrow - OK fine. But the debate should be a go - the public has a right to know how they view the problem, what their plans are for short and long term resolution, and they need to see the candidates offer evidence to support their positions.

    My guess is that foreign leaders/ the world stage influentials are watching Obama to see what he'll do and how he's reacting. Bush is only pres. in name. I think the Repubs have finally had their tipping point moment, and McCain doesn't have them in hand, either.

    McCain looks panicked - and I think the public is turning to Obama for his reasoned, even-keeled temperament. McCain can't take care of his own emotional needs, let alone the very real needs to multi-task and handle more than one priority.

    If he delays or cancels the debate, I think he'll kill his electability once and for all, and that's OK with me, too. People are seeing through this farce of his.

    And Failin' Palin? What an absurdity!

    As another blogger wrote, "I can see the moon. That doesn't make me an astronaut."

    Americans deserve so much better.

  4. sadly the whole of the republican party seems to buy into to this process of "lets create the most fear we can" Bush's address last evening sounds and feels eerily similar to the invasion of Iraq. "there's a trouble brewing and it rhymes with t and starts with p" We need money, we need a blank check and you have to do it now! Don't bother reading the fine print, just give us the check. This from a party that believes in deregulation. Hmmm, thats what got us here in the first place. Seriously?! WTF!

    Hello! this situation started well over two years ago and was ignored,econimists were predicitng the after effects months and months ago.

    Now McCain has been 'jumping the shark' ever since the convention. Lets cancel because of Hurricane Gustav, lets pretend Bush is phoning in his address because he is concerned, let me nominate someone with no experience to run as my vice presidential candidate after I have been running ads attacking the other guy on his lack of experience, lets cancl the debate to tackle the financial crisis i know nothing about because our economy is fundamentally strong.

  5. Dr. Schwab,
    I'm so glad to read you again!! I wondered if you could resist blogging about this story when I saw it on CNN yesterday:). Incidently, I'm taking Introduction to American National Government (one of my last classes before I transfer for a Bachelor's Degree!); I thought an election year would be the perfect year to take it!

    I'm more of an emotional supporter of Obama's because he has the inspiration, strength, and confidence (not arrogance) of a President. I really like his choice for VP too, also on an emotional level. Joe Biden's story helped me to understand what it must have been like for my husband after my car accident, not knowing whether I would live or die, finding me only after seven hours of searching because the hospital I was in called me "Jane Doe." Biden has more strength than the average Joe:).

  6. A president should be able to handle multiple tasks, priorize and answer questions. McCain is scared of the debate: pure and simple fact. As to the crisis, a bipartisan group IN CONGRESS is working with Paulson and already as a proposal almost ready for a bill to be passed. Because of this, the President, you remember him, Bush the twin to McCain, had to promise there would be oversight of Paulson in this bailout response, and a cap on parachutes (to me, there should be no parachutes for these CEOs, what parachute are they giving their workers? and the public?). We, the citizens of the US are paying the tab for this bailout caused by a complete Republican presidential failure. We have the right to see and hear these 2 candidates debate tomorrow night.

    McCain is a coniver. By delaying this debate, he bumps the VP debate. No McCain, No Palin. Its time for truth and justice (where is Superman when we need him).


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