Worst Week: Gonna be a big one for John McCain

This could be a Very Bad Week for Sen. John McCain.

Last week, McCain attempted a stunt for the ages, announcing that he was “suspending his campaign” so that he could rush back to Washington, where he was apparently desperately needed in order to pull together an economic bailout package. He called on Sen. Barack Obama to stop stomping the shizzle out of him on the campaign trail join him in pursuing a non-partisan solution that would ease the suffering of his cronies on Wall Street the American people.

Needless to say, the plan fizzled, and for a variety of reasons.

  • For starters, McCain has been absent from Washington for so much of this year (and most recent years, for that matter) that when he showed up, most people didn’t know who he was.
  • By the way, he’s not really on the committees charged with these kinds of economic matters.
  • While he told America he was suspending his campaign, he apparently forgot to tell the people who, you know, run his campaign.
  • Once he insinuated himself into the process, he actually managed to derail what progress had already been made – and this was according to a key Republican lawmaker, House Minority Whip Roy Blunt.
  • In Friday night’s debate at the University of Mississippi, the consensus seems to be that it was either a tie or a slight Obama win. Most importantly, though, it seems that the all-important independents thought Obama won. Given that Obama has “no experience” (compared with McCain’s “ample experience,” mostly at getting us into shit like Iraq), even a tie equals an Obama win.

As it turns out, the inside story of what happened is even worse for McCain.

Pelosi said Obama would speak for the Democrats. Though later he would pepper Paulson with questions, according to a Republican in the room, his initial point was brief: “We’ve got to get something done.”

Bush turned to McCain, who joked, “The longer I am around here, the more I respect seniority.” McCain then turned to Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to speak first.

Boehner was blunt. The plan Paulson laid out would not win the support of the vast majority of House Republicans. It had been improved on the edges, with an oversight board and caps on the compensation of participating executives. But it had to be changed at the core. He did not mention the insurance alternative, but Democrats did. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, pressed Boehner hard, asking him if he really intended to scrap the deal and start again.

No, Boehner replied, he just wanted his members to have a voice. Obama then jumped in to turn the question on his rival: “What do you think of the [insurance] plan, John?” he asked repeatedly. McCain did not answer.

One Republican in the room said it was clear that the Democrats came into the meeting with a “game plan” aimed at forcing McCain to choose between the administration and House Republicans. “They had taken McCain’s request for a meeting and trumped it,” said this source.

Congressional aides from both parties were standing in the lobby of the West Wing, unaware of the discord inside the Cabinet room, when McCain emerged alone, shook the hands of the Marines at the door and left. The aides were baffled. The plan had been for a bipartisan appearance before the media, featuring McCain, Obama and at least a firm statement in favor of intervention. Now, one of the leading men was gone.

As Josh Marshall puts it, McCain was “humiliated.”

Adding insult to injury, of course, was last night’s Saturday Night Live, where Tina Fey continued the beatdown on Sarah Palin. SNL has always had fun with presidents, but this is the worst number they’ve done on any pol since Chevy Chase more or less destroyed Gerald Ford’s career over 30 years ago.

The upshot is that we’re here on Sunday, facing down what is guaranteed to be one of the most monumentally important weeks in the last century of our nation’s history. The looming financial crisis is potentially epic; the deal that will be reached to address it may work or it may make things worse, depending on who you believe; and it’s hard to imagine that what happens in the next five to seven days won’t go a long way – a long way – toward deciding our next president.

And given the predicament we’ve allowed the kleptocrats to create over the past 8-40 years (depending on where you like to draw the line), the outcome of the 2008 elections, now just over four weeks away, could shape the course of America’s history in ways that historians will still be wrangling over hundreds of years from now. I know that probably sounds like hyperbole, but I think it’s more than a little plausible.

So, on deck: a big week for Johnny McSame and a big week for the country. McCain pulled a transparent political stunt so he could ride the Circular Talk Express into DC and look like a hero, but when he arrived he got punked left, right, upside down and sideways. I can’t say for sure how this looks to your average undecided voter, but it can’t possibly have helped, can it?

Meanwhile, regardless of what the realities of the bailout turn out to be, Obama walks away looking very … presidential – at least for the moment.

Not that I ever count on American voters paying attention or having the wits to parse even the simplest events, but we could be looking at a real turning point. McSame needs to have a very good week, and unless somebody has pics of Obama fellating Osama, I’m not sure where the good news is going to come from.

4 replies »

  1. So far, we’ve had a hurricane and the credit crisis. I wonder what “dog ate my homework” excuse McCain will come up with next to dodge the domestic policy debate on the 15th.

  2. $700 Billion divided evenly amongst the US population would provide in excess of $2 billion to everyone (man, woman and child) – that would be a hell of a spending spree!

  3. Hey Rick,

    I like that math. It only works if there are only 350 people in the U.S. though. But seriously, you bring up a good point. That’s a huge chunk of change. The average house value in the U.S. right now is about $250k. If we were to assume that the houses that have gone into foreclosure and will go into foreclosure will keep with that average, the government could pay off 100% of the loans for 2.8 million houses … or every house that has gone into foreclosure so far during this mess. And that of course would fix the mess immediately, but we’d much rather punish the borrowers than the lenders, so that won’t happen.