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.