McCain on the Ropes

Louis Mattei

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Capitol Hill's progress toward an agreement on the Wall Street bailout came to an alarming halt after John McCain decided to inject his insane "maverickism" into the crisis. This is the same sort of uninformed (read: senile) and desperate PR stunt that brought you Sarah Palin – and which the campaign now must employ to keep her out of the spotlight.Here's a bit from John B. Judis on The Plank, the New Republic blog:… it is simply unpatriotic--it's an insult to flag, country, and all the things that McCain claims to hold dear--for McCain to hold this financial crisis hostage to his political ambitions. McCain doesn't know a thing about finance and is no position to help work out an agreement. For the reasons Judis points out, Congressional leaders wanted nothing to do with the out-of-touch senator and were, surprisingly enough, close to reaching a deal on the bailout – before McCain decided to try and weasel his way out of the debate and went to Washington.Of course, McCain now plans on showing up in Oxford, like a schoolboy aware that he's being called out and can't avoid a fight. But not until after he soured a near-deal, making sure that things got ugly enough to justify his original panic on Wednesday and to give him a much-needed excuse for either A) avoiding the Mississippi debate entirely, which turned out to look too much like a suicidal move, or B) justifying how confused and bug-eyed he'll probably appear in tonight's debate against Obama, whose cool, professorial demeanor is looking more and more desirable (dare I say, presidential?) contrasted with a skittish GOP.The whole ordeal was an embarrassment for McCain. But what's really troubling is that his extreme panic was unnecessary and politically stupid. It's not as if the Obama camp had offered an elixir for the bailout crisis and McCain was under pressure to up the ante or come up with an answer of his own. Mostly, both camps had kept mum on detailed bailout strategies. That's because neither side is in a position to offer an easy fix; in truth, no one is. Any useful solution is going to be messy, take a good chunk of time to unfold and is sure to piss off a lot of important people on one side (or, more likely, both sides) of the economic and political fences.The fact that McCain decided to try for an impossible savior role rather than modestly tie the issue to his almost respectable record disparaging corporate greed (via campaign finance reform_ is beyond me. Whichever advisor(s) he's listening to ought to be fired. Of course, the scary part is that this was probably an idea of McCain's own "maverick" making.The man is on the ropes. Tonight will be a telling display of what's to come.

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