Home > McCain Hall of Shame > Hail Mary, Part II

Hail Mary, Part II

September 25th, 2008

Sarah Palin was McCain’s first big stunt. In a move that made no sense from a “country-first” standpoint, he hired someone supremely unsuited for the presidency or vice-presidency on the gamble that he could energize his base, capture women voters, and somehow turn things around without taking damage from Palin’s lack of ability and vetting. It was a high-stakes, Hail Mary gamble which was designed purely to help his campaign while not helping the country, indeed by putting the country itself at risk. And while initially it appeared to pay off, that gain has now melted away and McCain is back where he started–but now with a potential albatross around his neck.

Apparently McCain decided that it was time for another desperate gamble. Along the lines of the highly untraditional suspension of the GOP convention due to Hurricane Gustav, McCain is now using the bailout crisis to generate an even bigger publicity stunt, while running away from facing up for his past actions and current scandals. For McCain, the upcoming debate presents a huge risk: he faces a potential pasting as he would have to face questions about his history of deregulation in the banking industry and why his campaign manager has turned out to be a lobbyist for the biggest offenders in the crisis. Suddenly, McCain, who blasted Obama for not wanting to debate more, finds himself incredibly vulnerable to a forum where he cannot pack the audience with fawning loyalists.

So he decides that the only feasible thing for him to do is to cancel the debate–but he can’t just do that, he has to come up with a whopper that’ll make it seem like he’s actually doing something good or even necessary; ergo his decision to use the bailout crisis, saying that he has to rush to Washington to manage things. But even that would just look like posturing, so he adds the element of suspending his campaign to make it look like an act of self-sacrifice. While tactically a good move for his campaign (he gets more publicity without spending money), this again does not benefit the country, and in fact hurts it, in two ways: by suspending the debate, he robs the country of a chance to judge the candidates more on the issues and their merits (not a surprise–McCain’s entire campaign has been based upon the strategy of dodging the issues), and by injecting himself and the GOP’s election focus on the bailout, he risks upsetting balances and compromises with volatile political moves.

But more to the point, McCain’s act is really nothing more than self-serving aggrandizement; just like his PR trip down to the areas preparing for Gustav, there is really nothing he can contribute, and only stands to get in the way and muck things up (Obama responsibly steered clear of relief efforts so as not to interfere with their progress, offering only whatever help was possible from afar). But McCain cares less about getting things done than he does about grabbing the political advantage; ironically, his “Country First” posturing, while attractive for the cameras, only makes things worse for the country so McCain can benefit politically. Not to mention that the cancellation would deal a huge blow to the university that has spent so much money and effort to host the debates.

Potentially, this suspension tactic has great advantages for McCain: he could avoid the debate where his own hand in the crisis could be put in the forefront, he could come out looking like a self-sacrificing, dutiful reformer while putting Obama in the position of either following McCain’s example or risk being seen as less dutiful, and stands to grab a big chunk of credit for a bailout when all he is doing is getting in the way. Whatever happens, one can bet that McCain will either take credit for any success or blame Obama for any failure. Not to mention that his call to suspend fundraising would primarily hurt Obama, as McCain gets his funding from the state. Bonus: McCain’s people are trying to use this to cancel Palin’s VP debate, apparently white-knuckled over what she might come across looking like.

There is also a risk: if the public sees this for what it is–a self-serving publicity stunt and an attempt to run from the debate–then McCain could see his numbers fall even more. (Dave Letterman has reportedly hit at McCain, saying: “He can’t run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sara Palin. Where is she? What are you going to do if you’re elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We’ve got a guy like that now!”)

In the end, however, we come away with an even more enduring impression: John McCain is a long-shot gambler, prone to make lurching, desperate moves when he feels threatened politically, with more concern for his political career than for his country or the truth–a quality which speaks volumes about his character and his temperament.

This is not a man suited to be president.

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  1. September 25th, 2008 at 10:05 | #1

    oh this has nothing to do with McCain and everything to do with Palin. No one cares about McCain. Therefore he is smokescreen for cancelling Palin’s debate. You correctly assessed the situation earlier when u said that McCain was strong at debates and Obama might come across as a weaker… therefore it’s all about not blowing up palin’s spot. She has SO much weight and is barreling straight ahead with all the momentum of the party. If she got crushed by ANYONE(like a normal interviewer for instance) but especially Biden, they might lose a lot of steam because the veil would be taken down. No one cares about McJellyfish. they love Palin. And all the horrid Fox dummies LOVE her and would really really hate to try to spin a lost debate into a win for Palin instead of simply lauding her for helping the economy or something (maybe she’d give that money back to help stimulate the economy!)

  2. stevetv
    September 25th, 2008 at 10:33 | #2

    Yeah, I agree. I’m convinced cancelling the VP debate is the only reason behind the whole campaign suspension. And if it happens, I’ll wager they’ll never reschedule it.

  3. Tim Kane
    September 25th, 2008 at 22:06 | #3

    I agree it’s Palin, but I disagree that it’s just Palin.

    I think the whole thing is on the verge of coming completely unglued for the Republicans. I’ve always said that McCain was a ‘self check’ and that he would destroy himself – with little or nor pressure coming from Obama.

    Also there’s the health angle: McCain is struggling to keep his left eye open. (maybe the fundies are already introducing toxins into his “Metamucil.”)

    To “suspend” his campaign? Those are the very words Romney used to end his campaign.

    I’m thinking that Mages right – they want to put Palin back in the wrapping paper and stick her back under the tree with a “do not open till election day” tag on it.

    But I suspect that McCain is going to drop out of the debates altogether as well. He can’t chew gum and walk at the same time. Only he knows it. So I’m predicting right here and now that none of the debates are going to happen. Someone at ‘Kos said, “better to leave people think you might be a fool rather then attend the debates and prove it true.”

    He’s creaking under some heavy baggage as it is: a full blown economic crisis and video tape floating around with him admitting he knows nothing about it, campaigning on experience, then picking Palin, Country first, then picking Palin, anti-ear marks, then picking Palin, anti-corruption, then picking Palin, anti-lobbyist then have a boat load of them run his campaign, a lifetime of fighting regulation when the mother of all crisis results from a lack of it, claiming Obama doesn’t have enough experience, then blaming him for the lack of regulation meanwhile the guy that wrote the anti-regulation legislation is his economic advisor AND a lobbyist for a FOREIGN bank. Now he suspends his campaign to go to Washington to work on the financial crisis only to find that they’ve pretty much already solved things, at least for this go around. And as a desert, he got caught red handed, personally lying to David Lettermen.

    Oh yeah. McCain’s going to blow. He’s the one cratering. Could get ugly between now and election day. The worst case scenario is that he steps down from the ticket, and the Republicans have to go with Palin and Lieberman or some such thing. Imagine that: Palin at the head of their ticket.

  4. stevetv
    September 27th, 2008 at 08:06 | #4

    Since McCain’s back in, I’m guessing he intended to attend the debate all along. Whatever he was trying to do these past few days backfired. Or rather, exploded in his face.

    “I was against the debate before I was for it.”

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