To the horror of magazines sponsoring presidential debate events, John McCain announces that he's "suspending" his campaign (No ads? No fundraising?) until a bailout deal is reached.
Following September 11th, our national leaders came together at a time of crisis. We must show that kind of patriotism now. Americans across our country lament the fact that partisan divisions in Washington have prevented us from addressing our national challenges. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.
It's supposed to be leadership and "putting country first," I suppose, although it's true: Nothing has changed in the last 48 hours except the possibility of Congress staying at work until Sunday and some bad polls for McCain. It's most assuredly a stunt, as John McCain and Barack Obama don't really matter right now, and McCain's action makes the bailout debate look even more (if such a thing is possible) like a world-historical crisis. Has a presidential debate ever been postponed 48 hours before it was supposed to start?
UPDATE: Could this be a too-clever-by-half screwing-over of Obama?
NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports that Obama campaign strategist Robert Gibbs said, Obama initiated contact at 8:30 this morning after discussing it on the flight to Tampa yesterday afternoon and again last night. They discussed a joint statement of shared principles on the bailout package—to help move it along toward consensus on the Hill.
At 2:35 p.m., McCain called back and mentioned whether they should meet at the White House and delay the debate. Asked whether they should delay the debate, Gibbs said that this is a global financial crisis—and there would be no better way to shed light this crisis than to debate it. Gibbs says they have not decided whether or not it would be better to postpone the debate—but want to talk to the sponsors (the debate commission) first.
If this is true, McCain is hoping that voters hear about him suspending his campaign for a few days and don't hear that he sprung the news on Obama. There's a grey area here, but you can argue that a true "country-firster" would have told his opponent what he was doing.
How this plays to Joe Dorito and Jane Six-Pack, I don't know. But this fetishization of bi-partisan political "action" is nonsense. Having a political or economic philosophy that would guide a candidate toward a decision on the bailout would be more reassuring than what McCain's offering: A crazy political curveball and a promise to pass whatever the senators who know what they're doing come up with.
Joe Lieberman is on my TV right now saying "the American people don't want words." I don't know: These debates are quadrennial events that most voters watch. They're not political fundraisers or set speeches, partisan events that distract people from important news. They are important news.