Earlier today, Elizabeth Bumiller of the evil New York Times reported:
“Senator John McCain said Wednesday that he would temporarily suspend his presidential campaign on Thursday to return to Washington to deal with the financial crisis and the $700 billion bailout package now before Congress.”
Mavericky stuff there, lookin’ all post-partisan. But wait, there’s more!
“Mr. McCain said he told Senator Barack Obama that he was asking the Commission on Presidential Debates to postpone the debate scheduled for Friday night.”
These debates are long-planned, long-prepared events. The financial crisis is here today, it’ll be here tomorrow, and if we’re lucky for the rest of our lives. McCain called this a matter of “patriotism;” by now we should know not to trust any Republican wearing a flag. Postponing the debate over the weekend is a shallow ploy to appear statesmanlike while diverting attention away from a floundering campaign. A McCain campaign source noted:
– McCain called Obama before he made the statement and told him he was going to suspend his campaign and move back to DC until the economic crisis has been figured out.
– McCain wants to create “a political free zone” until a deal is reached between now and Monday.
…it wasn’t surprising to hear them calling for an urgent political moratorium. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell quotes the McCainiacs’ hysteria:
“[McCain advisors] deny that there is a political calculation in this and say without action the country could slide into a Depression by Monday and added “we’ll see 12 percent unemployment” if action is not completed.”
Our economy has apparently sunk so low that a 90 minute Presidential debate on Friday night could double the unemployment rate. Ben Smith over at Politico questions the urgency, noting: “The only thing that’s changed in the past 48 hours is the public polling.”
And Obama? “No dice:”
“The debate is on,” a senior Obama campaign official told ABC News.
Assuming the debate remains on, (and I’d put my $1 on it,) McCain will at least suspend his ads. What this has to do with anything is beyond me. Senator McCain isn’t writing the ads himself, nor spending any personal time planning them instead of dealing with financial policy. This too-cute-by-half gambit reaffirms McCain’s motive: A temporary stop to the campaign bleeding, rather than an actual solution to the financial crisis.
Obama could pull his ads as well, if he wants to match McCain charade for facade. (*I’m aware it don’t rhyme.) Alternately, Obama could release a statement explaining that the campaigns themselves are absolutely central to America’s financial future, while hammering on a “failure of conservatism” narrative. Friday’s debate is on foreign policy, so let’s expand it beyond war-gaming. Let’s have a talk about free trade. Let’s have a talk about the interconnectivity of international markets. Let’s have a talk about blowing American taxpayer money to save foreign banks.
Bring. It. On.
Update: The reviews are in and they’re horrible:
First poll results are trickling out. The very good Survey-USA asked:
“The first debate between John McCain and Barack Obama is scheduled to take place in two days. Should the debate be held as scheduled? Should the debate be held, but the format changed to focus on the economy? Or, should the debate be postponed?”
And the results:
Held as scheduled: 50%
Held with focus on economy: 36%
Not sure: 4%
Nor are Americans buying the campaign suspension gimmick. Question:
“Is the right response to the turmoil on Wall Street to suspend the campaigns for president? To continue the campaigns as though there is no crisis? Or, to re-focus the campaigns with a unique emphasis on the turmoil on Wall Street?”
Suspend campaigns: 14%
Continue campaign: 31%
Re-focus the campaign: 48%
Not sure: 7%
My unscientific guess is that the wording may have pushed some people both towards the “re-focus” answer and away from the “continue” response; the former because it sounds nice (“unique emphasis”) and the latter because it sounds dismissive and naive (“as though there is no crisis.”) Consistant, though, is the fact that less than one in eight Americans are buying McCain’s used car.
(S-USA polled 1,000 people, margin of error 3.2%. Crosstabs here.)