So I’m admittedly biased against McCain, but I couldn’t help but find his decision to suspend his campaign to be… Strange. For some reason (maybe it’s because it’s what we did in school for years?), I couldn’t help but view it as a strategic move. And in that case, it was brilliant. For a candidate who admitted in January that “[t]he issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” and who, ten days ago, said, “The fundamentals of our economy are strong” despite the difficult times, the move to suspend his campaign shows just how seriously he takes the issue. It’s so important that he’s putting aside his campaign to valiantly fix it.
The move was doubly brilliant, because while McCain suddenly gave the appearance as being very concerned about protecting Americans who’ve lost it all in the economy, it also leaves Obama looking like he’s selfishly continuing to campaign, ignoring the issue.
But Obama was quick to point out, “I think it is going to be part of the President’s job to deal with more than one thing at once… So in my mind, actually, it’s more important than ever that we present ourselves to the American people and try to describe where we want to take the country, and where we want to take the economy.”
The guy over at Electoral-Vote.com has an interesting piece up:
John McCain suspended his campaign, stopped running ads, and said he would not participate in the first debate scheduled for tomorrow at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS. He said that the nation is on the brink of a serious recession and this is no time for politics. McCain has been in the Senate 25 years. He knows precisely what will happen if he barges into the office of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), chairman of the Senate banking committee and announces: “OK, Outta here, I’m taking over now.” …
So why did McCain propose cancelling the debate? In a word: politics. By flying into D.C. as the savior he might appear as a man of action to people who don’t know how the Senate works. The reality of course, is that Obama and McCain’s appearance in Dodd’s office would instantly turn the entire event into a political circus.
Of course, he’s not so kind to McCain as he continues:
Balz says that McCain is an impulsive gambler and sees his campaign stalled, what with Obama rising in the polls, so he goes for a Hail Mary again. This is actually the third such gamble McCain has taken in less than a month. First, he picked an inexperienced governor who runs a state with a quarter the population of Brooklyn as his running mate. Then he cancelled the first day of the Republican National Convention due to a weather emergency. Now he wants to cancel a debate due to a financial emergency. There is an increasing risk that the voters will see him as an impetuous and reckless politician whereas Obama comes off as stable and mature. …
The NY Times also has an analytic article on the politics of this. The view there is that Republican members of Congress know very well that throwing $700 billion at Wall St. in a big hurry with no oversight is not popular with the voters. On the other hand, they don’t want to buck their own President who still has a modicum of popularity with the the Republican rank and file. They are hoping McCain can bail them out. Democrats don’t want to be seen as obstructionists, but they also see the bailout for what it really is: a ploy to spend so much money that a future President Obama’s hands would be tied for lack of money. In effect this move is Bush’s attempt to “rule from the grave” by severely constraining what the next President can do. Oddly, it might constrain McCain more than Bush since he (McCain) has spending plans, too.
He also links to a survey of 1,000 Americans, in which 86% of respondents says that the debate should still be held. (50% saying it should be “Held as Scheduled,” and 36% saying it should be “Held With Focus on Economy.”) A plurality of respondents (46%) further said that it would be bad for America to cancel the debate.
And the debate isn’t the only thing that McCain called off. McCain was supposed to be on the Letterman show, but called Dave up to cancel. In this clip on Youtube, if you can get past the awkward first minute in which it almost seems like Letterman is getting paid for how many times he can work “John McCain” into a sentence, it actually blossoms into a pretty interesting piece. For one, Letterman seems to actually admire McCain, talking at length about how he’s a genuine war hero. But he also goes on to point out that suspending the campaign was a downright bizarre move, and that it’s especially odd that he didn’t send in his #2. (Or one of her many body doubles from WomenWhoLookLikeSarahPalin.com?)
What interesting times we live in.