Having just watched some interviews on CNN about what went on in the White House "summit" meeting this afternoon, it seems clear that John McCain has screwed things up big-time with his political grandstanding.
Hopefully voters will remember this come November. Once again, McCain showed that he's a Me First, Country Second guy.
Rather than letting negotiations over the financial bailout plan proceed without interjection of presidential politics, McCain swooped into Washington at the last minute in an obvious attempt to save his campaign – not the national economy.
This morning, lawmakers seemed to be near a deal on the bailout. Now, it's being reported that House Republicans threw a monkey wrench into the White House meeting by coming up with an alternative plan linked to John McCain.
Chris Dodd, chair of the Senate Banking Committee, said that when McCain spoke at the meeting Dodd couldn't understand what he was saying, what he was for and against. So much for the Straight Talk express.
Earlier in the day Dodd and his House colleague, Barney Frank, announced that there was bipartisan agreement on a set of principles for the bailout. But after McCain shows up, the agreement evaporates.
I agree with Paul Begala, a CNN analyst. He suspects that House Republicans are gumming up the bailout works so McCain can pretend to unstick them in the next few days. Potentially this could allow McCain to chicken out of tomorrow's presidential debate, untruthfully claiming that he's needed in Washington to broker a deal.
Actually, of course, McCain is a big reason why House Republicans aren't supporting the otherwise bipartisan bailout. Our economy is being put at further risk in a vain attempt to shore up McCain's sinking poll numbers.
I'm not a big fan of the bailout. But something needs to be done, and the changes being proposed to Bush's original plan make it more palatable. I'm also open to the possibility that House Republicans have some good ideas that need to also be considered.
For example, CNN reported that one notion is to use private funds, rather than public, for the bailout. After all, supposedly there's a good chance that eventually the distressed assets to be bought up will be worth more than what'll be paid for them.
If that's the case, why not make it possible for private investors to bet on that possibility, rather than putting taxpayer dollars at risk?
What irks me is that McCain isn't showing any genuine leadership on this issue. He's just trying to score some political points with the aid of House Republicans, who likely will balk at a deal for another day or two until they emerge from a meeting with McCain and proclaim "What a great leader! He brought us on board!"
This newest McCain fiasco serves to demonstrate that he'd be a disastrous president. George Will, a conservative, is sour on McCain:
Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.
… Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.
It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?
No. That's why we've got to elect Barack Obama.
All I can say is God help us. Our country has been in disarray since gwb stole office in 2000 and it continues up until the very end. I have lived 68 years and have not seen anything like this ever. The power hungry greedy people are ruining this country for everyone. If McCain gets in and I don't think he will, I am leaving America.
Posted by: Hannah Stevens | September 25, 2008 at 04:20 PM
Thank goodness there are some level headed Republican congressmen who will not be rushed, or pressured into a quick fix requiring 700 Billion dollars. This supposed need to rush this through, has smelled bad from the beginning. Kudos to Senator John McCain for having the leadership and responsibility to investigate this bill, before allowing a couple of boobs like Reid and Pelosi to hurry it into law. Since former Chairman Greenspan warned congress about this six months ago, but was blocked by the Democrats, why in the heck don't they bring him in, before rushing this bill, which could haunt America for decades.
Posted by: Gina | September 25, 2008 at 04:50 PM
How exactly is Senator McCain spoiling the deal? There was opposition to the bailout before McCain ever made any announcement about going to Washington. A lot of people aren't really happy about bailing out Wall Street. I don't think Senator McCain is to blame for that. I don't know what is in Senator McCain's heart. But both he and Obama are being paid by the US taxpayers for being senators. Why shouldn't they be involved in the negotiations? The people of Arizona are depending of Senator McCain to represent their interests. The people of Illinois are depending on Senator Obama to represent theirs.
Posted by: Don B. | September 25, 2008 at 06:00 PM
McCain has ZERO knowledge in economics. For Christ sake, keep this "stand-up-and-fight" idiot OUT of management of the current financial crisis!
Posted by: Sunny Dawd | September 25, 2008 at 09:24 PM
Don, the New York Times is reporting how McCain is screwing things up. He isn't taking a stand on what needs to be done. He sat in the White House meeting clueless, while Obama participated actively.
If anyone needed more evidence that McCain is an incompetent leader and consensus builder, here it is:
Posted by: Brian | September 25, 2008 at 09:46 PM
More evidence of how McCain is playing politics with the American economy:
What a jerk. If the bailout plan goes kaput, and the stock market tanks, we can all blame McCain.
Posted by: Brian | September 25, 2008 at 10:31 PM
As for McCain--just quit the race entirely. You are too old, you don't understand many of the major issues facing us (please work on understanding the difference Shia and Sunni as your homework for tonight), you're recklessly impulsive, dishonest and ethically compromised. Also, I really don't want to see Sarah Palin take over if and when you get sick or die. Four bouts of melanoma constitute a very serious health issue. But you don't want to acknowledge that, otherwise you'd release your health records.
Solution: "the American people will be too distracted to notice that McCain and the President are from the same party, same governing philosophy, same multi-millionaire background, same level of intelligence, etc. Remember, we got Bush into the White House twice. We can do it again with this guy, no problem." WAKE UP People ... What has happened to our country that we have reached this sorry pass?
Posted by: | September 26, 2008 at 01:04 AM
McCain said on Tuesday he hadn't even read the bail-out proposal. The people who support this man have drunk the kool-aid and are as clueless about him as he is about the economy. Do some research, people. Don't just believe those lying emails that circulate about Obama, the ones that worry he wants to blow up federal buildings, and start looking at who you support and what he has stood for. He only has one loyalty and that's to John McCain!
Posted by: Rain | September 26, 2008 at 06:45 AM
WOW....Washington Mutual tanked.
I've been with WAMU for many years. Savings accounts and my home mortgage is with them. Times are interesting and kinda strange. In an effort to get ahead of the times, could someone give me directions to the nearest Soap line? If it helps any, I have my own bowl and spoon.
Posted by: Roger | September 26, 2008 at 08:15 AM
In a TV debate between a tall man and a short one, the tall guy usually wins - we haven’t had a short president since Harry Truman. Young man vs. older one? The younger usually wins.
Handsome (good teeth anyway), charismatic candidate against a man who’s neither? Well, you get the point: John McCain will have three strikes against him as he enters the first presidential debate tonight (assuming it goes ahead).
But McCain will have two things going for him. The subject will be on national security, his strong suit, and he’ll be coming off a bounce driven by his dramatic intervention this week in the financial-rescue package.
Zogby’s Interactive poll showed McCain gaining five points on Wednesday, going from a three-point deficit to a two-point lead. (Other polls aren’t one-night samples because they’re conducted over the phone and, so, take longer to field.)
McCain speaks in commands and sound bites. He abhors nuance as something to cut through. Barack Obama, a law-school professor, loves to explore subtle distinctions and prides himself on keeping his grounding and cool at all times. Without a teleprompter, Obama has a hard time rising above complexity and seems allergic to declarative sentences.
Obama has a John F. Kennedy-like distrust of passion, while McCain is more like Bobby Kennedy - embracing passion and using it to empower him.
All of this is to McCain’s advantage. But it will be hard to overcome the electorate’s innate tendency to want a Democrat in the White House. And the contrast between an old, short man and a young, dynamic, charismatic hero will be more than evident on TV.
The late, great media consultant Bob Squier used to analogize candidates’ first meeting in debate to grade-schoolers’ first day in the schoolyard. Just as kids rapidly decide on a pecking order based on who can beat up whom, so the candidates take one another’s measure and get elated or depressed based on their conclusions. That psychological hangover lasts for the entire campaign.
It was clear that Hillary Clinton had Obama’s measure in the Democratic debates. His policy answers were fumbling and elusive, while hers’ were wonkish and detailed. The contrast always worked in Hillary’s favor. Doubt it? Then why did Obama turn down additional debates when Hillary suggested them as the race entered its last phases? Winners don’t turn down debates.
Of course, McCain lost most of his debates in the GOP primaries. He lacked Mike Huckabee’s wit, Mitt Romney’s aggressiveness, Rudy Giuliani’s clarity. He was inclined to mumble, and his weak, soft voice too often failed to command attention.
Debates mattered little in the primaries, in part because there were so many. In the general election, however, they’ll count for everything. In 2000, Al Gore led George Bush by 10 points after the conventions, but his shoddy performance in the debates gave Bush the lead.
(John Kerry won the first debate in 2004, putting him back in that race - but Bush gained strength with each match and ultimately won.)
If McCain can use his momentum and foreign-policy expertise to defeat Obama in this first contest, the Democrat may find it hard to recover. The concerns about his lack of strength and absence of a killer instinct will resurface, feeding doubts that he’s all celebrity, no substance. Others will take his penchant for complexity and see a Hamlet figure paralyzed by his own analysis.
But the force is with Obama: It’s a Democratic year. McCain must keep pulling rabbits out of hats to keep in contention. All Obama has to do is persuade voters to do what they’re inclined to do anyway - vote Democrat.
Posted by: condor | September 26, 2008 at 11:40 AM
I see McCain as a winner in this situation.
McCain has transformed a minority in both houses of Congress and a losing position in the polls into the key role in the bailout package, the main man around whom the final package will take shape. He arrived in Washington to find the Democrats working with the Bush Administration to pass an unpopular $700 billion bailout. The Democrats had already cut their deal with Bush. The Dems agreed to the price tag while Bush agreed to special aid to families facing foreclosure, equity for the taxpayers, and limits on executive compensation. But no sooner had McCain arrived than he derailed the deal.
Knowing how unpopular the bailout is with the American people, the Democrats are not about to pass anything without broad Republican support even though their majorities permit them to act alone. Instead of signing on with the Democratic/Bush package, the House Republicans are insisting on replacing the purchase of corporate debt with loans to companies and insurance paid for by the companies, not by the taxpayers. That, of course, is a popular position. McCain would be comfortable to debate this issue division all day. And, if the Dems don’t cave into the Republican position, that’s probably exactly what he’ll do on tonight’s scheduled debate in Mississippi.
But the Democrats are not about to be stubborn. They know their package is a lemon and need the political cover of Republican support. So the Republicans can write their own ticket…and they will. John McCain will be at the center of the emerging compromise while Obama is out on the campaign trail kissing babies. If the deal is cut before tonight's debate, which is pretty unlikely at this point, my bet is that McCain shows up in triumph. If it isn’t, he shows up anyway and flagellates (not fellatiates) Obama over the differences between the Democratic package and McCain’s.
By Monday, at the latest, the Democrats have to cave in and pass the Republican version. They don’t dare pass their own without GOP support, so they will have to cave in to the Republican version.
Then McCain comes out of the process as the hero who made it happen when the president couldn’t and Obama wouldn’t. He becomes the bailout expert.
And, of course, the bailout will work, contrary to the skepticism of Condor, above. With the feds standing behind the bad debt, whether by purchase or loans and insurance, Wall Street will breathe a sigh of relief. Bears won’t dare bet against the economy with the entire weight of the federal government on the other side. They may be bears but they are not rabid.
Finally, McCain, as the reigning expert on bailouts, then can take the tax issue to Obama, saying that a tax increase, such as the Democrat is pushing, would destroy the bailout, ruin the economy, and trigger a collapse.
This bold move by McCain is about to work. Big time. This may not be a democrat year yet.
Posted by: JCW | September 26, 2008 at 02:56 PM
To me the biggest question for McCain to answer in terms of national security is how he could have possibly chosen a running mate as inept and incapable of being president as Sarah Palin. I hope you McCain fans are paying attention and listening to her answers to questions that anybody who reads even this blog could have answered better. She is impossible, and that's something John McCain should have to answer in terms of our nation's security. If you have heard her Couric interview and still support her, I would suggest you are as clueless as she is. This is a huge, pathetic joke and might even be why McCain suddenly created all the buzz about suspending the campaign (when he hadn't) to take the spotlight off her lack of any kind of understanding. Republicans who back her make a mockery of their own patriotism.
Personally, I think McCain needs to get her out of there and put up Lieberman. I might disagree with them both but at least Lieberman is capable of running the country if that should come to pass. It's who McCain wanted to begin with and even as a Democrat, who wants to see McCain lose, I'd rather see him win by changing than take the chance he might win with this bimbo on the ticket. It's just way beyond wrong.
Posted by: Rain | September 26, 2008 at 03:24 PM