Friday, September 26, 2008

Self-Imposed Blackout for McCain/Palin.

It's remarkable just how fast information can become obsolete during this campaign season. I wrote yesterday's post on Wednesday, shortly before I heard about McCain's intention to pull out of Friday's debate. That fact didn't change a single thing that I wrote about, yet it still gave my analysis a sheen of dust. Because it turns out that even presidential debates, despite being programmed months in advance, can be sabotaged or even cancelled solely on the basis of one candidate's whim. It doesn't matter how much preparation, time, money, and energy the organizers have invested in the event; apparently if it's not viewed as convenient for one of the major players, he can just call the whole thing off. However, I can't find any record of it ever happening before.


Perhaps John McCain will reconsider his impetuous decision and rejoin the presidential race*. Maybe by the time you read this post, everything will have once again changed. Still I'd like to get my thoughts out regarding this latest controversy. Like many other Americans, I have been eagerly anticipating this showdown. I'm getting sick of the superficial posturing, the political maneuvering, and the dishonest ads. It's time to let these candidates face each other and the voting public. This is simply not the time for more backroom strategizing. There is plenty of that going on in the Legislature among those who are already on the appropriate committees to be dealing with this latest financial crisis.

Like many other observers, I suspect that McCain's decision was alomst completely about political expediency. Wednesday saw the release of a Washington Post/ABC poll that had Obama leading McCain 52-43%. The was the biggest differential in favor of Obama for months. In fact, the last time a candidate lost after this large a lead in September was in 1948, when Thomas Dewey lost to Harry S. Truman. Personally I distrust polls. But it seems that McCain's handlers watch them quite closely. Another factor** that dealt a huge blow to the GOP ticket was Wednesday's "revelation" within the mainstream media that McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis was an influential lobbyist for Fannie Mae during key years in the housing crisis.

For the past couple weeks John McCain has systematically squandered the boost he got from his previous "Hail Mary"-style gimmick- the selection of his running mate Sarah Palin. His proclamation that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong", his tradition of being a staunch deregulator, a general impression that he is "out-of-touch", an almost daily flip-flopping on his position regarding the bailout of Wall Street, and the claim that he would fire the SEC Chairman if he were president left the majority of Americans doubting his ability to act responsibly when it comes to the economy. Meanwhile Sarah Palin was increasingly displaying the fundamental lack of capabilty that keeps many wondering whether she should be anywhere near the presidency.

Given the situation McCain and his handlers found themselves in, it's no wonder that they sought a game-changing move that would distract the American Public from their campaign's steady collapse. So despite the fact that he hasn't cast a vote in the Senate since April 8th, and the general assumption that his economic credentials are dubious, he decided that he would "suspend his campaign" and go back to Wahington. Never mind that the negotiations regarding the bail-out have been underway for more than a week. This move is entirely in line with his self-imposed removal from the media. This past Tuesday he had his first press conference in 40 days. And the McCain campaign has not let Palin have one since her selection. Was anyone truly surprised that John McCain wanted to get out of the nationwide debates?


*Ok... well the truth is that he never did actually "suspend" his campaign. It was more than an empty gesture, however. Apparently John McCain went to DC to throw a wrench into a budding agreement between moderate Republican senators, the Democrats in Congress, and Bush.

** ... along with another terrible press appearance by Sarah Palin (with Katie Couric).

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