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Tilting at Windmills

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September 25, 2008

MCCAIN VISITS THE CGI.... I'm afraid I must be a little fuzzy on what it means to "suspend" one's presidential campaign. As John McCain sees it, the crisis on Wall Street is so serious, he couldn't possibly recommend a proposal and seek the presidency at the same time, and the idea of taking 90 minutes to debate Barack Obama is just wrong.

McCain can, however, stop by New York to address the Clinton Global Initiative, in part to talk about why he can't make any political appearances during the economic crisis.

"I cannot carry on a campaign as though this dangerous situation had not occurred, or as though a solution were at hand, which it clearly is not. As of this morning I suspended my political campaign. With so much on the line, for America and the world, the debate that matters most right now is taking place in the United States Capitol -- and I intend to join it. Senator Obama is doing the same. America should be proud of the bipartisanship we are seeing.

"It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administration's proposal to meet the crisis. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time. So I am returning to Washington...."

As for the part about Obama, the Democratic nominee said yesterday he would return to D.C. if needed. Soon after, the president called him directly, and asked him to join him, McCain, and congressional leaders at the White House. Obama, of course, agreed.

As for McCain's CGI pitch, I'm having trouble seeing the point. The dangerous situation began in earnest 11 days ago, and McCain has continued to campaign, just as other candidates for national office have done during previous election-year crises. There's a debate underway on the Hill, but McCain doesn't have anything constructive to offer. He insists we're "running out of time," but he can't say why.

And the crisis is so overwhelming, McCain has time to stop by New York to give yet another political speech.

I'm also very interested to know how McCain defines "suspended." His website is still up, collecting money, and promoting tomorrow night's debate. His surrogates are still on television this morning. As far as I can tell, none of his aides has been sent home, told to come back after the campaign "suspension" is over.

Strange days.

Steve Benen 9:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (52)

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Strange days indeed.

You think McCain would have done better if he had hired a professional campaign staff?

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 25, 2008 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Not to spam, but I'll bring over my comment from the "impulse" thread, as it's relevant here.

The local Toronto talk radio station is now broadcasting some of McCain's speech at the ClintonFest: "... am suspending my campaign .. need bipartisanship ...".

And the conservative radio host is talking over it with naked scorn dripping from his voice. "That's John McCain, NOT campaigning for president. They really think we're dumb. No wonder we are skeptical about politicians." Earlier this morning, he was raking McCain over the coals for this stunt, playing Burton Cummings singing "I'm scared, I'm terrified", agonizing over the depths of Palin's stupidity, chastising Bush for freaking people out, and playing Obama statements and saying things like, "He's sounding better all the time, isn't he? If I were an American, I'd be closer and closer to voting for Obama." This is the host who has never let a chance to mock Obama pass him by. Quite a change, eh?

Jeez. They're back from commercial and still mocking McCain. Unreal. "How can we miss you if you won't go away? Please."

Posted by: MaryL on September 25, 2008 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

He can stay on the campaign for what 18 hours after the suspension announcement but can not have a debate? Someone has to ask his campaign what a suspension means? Other than canceling ads and a debate apparently nothing.

Hopefully the press tracks his every minute in DC - because other than the 4pm meeting with Bush I suspect McCain will not be doing anything. Maybe show up to the Capital Building for a photo op and a nap in his office but will he really be doing anything?

Posted by: Kelly on September 25, 2008 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

it really is all about "winning the day" to McCain's people, isn't it? just say something exciting right now, worry about tomorrow TOMORROW.

i don't see how this debate isn't lose/lose for McCain. if he doesn't show, and Obama does, then he looks like a p*ssy who's afraid to debate with Obama.

if he does show, then he looks like he folded. where's the upside in this for him?

Posted by: rob! on September 25, 2008 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

His attack ads were also running last night.

Please push this with your media contacts. The "suspend" is yet another McCain lie.

Posted by: Anonny on September 25, 2008 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Firesign Theater: There are bozos on this bus.

The American electorate are being played like buffoons. Even low information voters are coming out from their fog. No, no, wait, they are slipping back, oh, geeze, shit. Oh well, it almost worked. I guess McAce would need to drop his pants and moon the electorate before the haze could be lifted. Those sleepy low information voters.

Maybe Palin can find "a couple of them and bring them to us"

Posted by: stevio on September 25, 2008 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

He's a MAVERICK dammit! Next question.

Posted by: Keith on September 25, 2008 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Turned on the TV for five minutes this morning (I live in St. Louis) and saw a McCain attack ad. Last night I got a call from a McCain phone bank. "Suspended?" I don't think the word means what they think it means.

Posted by: jimBOB on September 25, 2008 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of a story about Oil companies. I don't remember the details, but some oil company donated a few hundred thousand dollars to a charity, then spent millions advertising the fact that they donated to this charity.

It also reminds me of the Colbert Report episode right after Robert Novak announced he had brain cancer. Colbert made a somber statement about how he wouldn't make fun of him for hitting a pedestrian the week before, because of the gravity of Novak's health. Colbert then spent the next 5 minutes patting himself on the back for being such a noble guy.

Life imitating art...

Posted by: Stephen on September 25, 2008 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

If this is the way "mavericks" behave, I'm glad the American people get to it now rather than in the White House.

We've all known for quite some time that economic troubles were on the horizon. And Republicans have always encouraged us to "spend our way out of it." Tax breaks and incentive checks have done absolutely nothing. For most people more spending means more debt. More debt means fewer loans, not more.

And now, suddenly we're in a crisis of mammoth proportions? And all it's going to take to fix it is a little more debt.

They don't just think we're stupid. They think we're single-cell organisms that don't even react to light.

Posted by: chrenson on September 25, 2008 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Notice we're not talking about Rick Davis taking money from Freddie Mac.

Posted by: Haik Bedrosian on September 25, 2008 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

I thought McCain wanted debates every week out of the back of a pickup truck. Guess that went the way of weekly press conferences. Then again, is there a single issue/talking point that you can't find a McCain quote from both sides? He has no positions only postures.

Posted by: Jack H. on September 25, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Nicole Wallace was on Morning Joe spewing swill, and in answer to a question about what "suspending" a campaign meant, said, "I'll probably be pulled after I'm done here."

But she had to stay on the show long enough to spew the swill.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on September 25, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Just another lie from a guy who can't tell the truth anymore.

Posted by: Bob M on September 25, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

McCain cancelled his appearance on Letterman last night, but Letterman discovered during his show that McCain was at that moment taping an interview with Katie Couric in the same building. Letterman had a lot of fun with it, but I'm surprised the media haven't picked up this story. In it's the TV column next to the comics in today's Washington Post.

Posted by: Wally on September 25, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

People, the fundamentals of the campaign have been suspended. You know, the interests of american workers, etc. The real fundamentals.

Posted by: steve on September 25, 2008 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

WTF? How is this not campaigning?

Let me understand this: he's got time to go on Katie Couric, he's got time to do a speech on global warming, he's got time to CALL BONO, THE LEAD SINGER OF U2, he's got time to meet with Lady de Rothchild, he's got time to swoop into DC now that a deal has been worked out by Congress and is imminent (ugh, we all know that guy), but no time to do a debate?

I now fear McCain will at some point decide to chew gum during his presidency.

Posted by: anonymiss on September 25, 2008 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

One of these days:
It is going to be one plane crash too many.

Posted by: koreyel on September 25, 2008 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

You can still sign up and create debate watching parties from the McCain website - http://www.johnmccain.com/McCainNation/

Posted by: Alex on September 25, 2008 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Just found this comment out there;

"A senior campaign official says that McCain will NOT debate -- no matter what -- if Congress hasn't reached an agreement on a bailout package."

McBush are using the debate to try and leverage a deal for the bailout plain and simple. This is the real story.

"Give us all the taxpayer money with John McCain pretending to be against it or else we won't show up for the debate..."

The question is whether they want to go the whole route and just declare Marshall Law. It would at least make things easier on everyone.

Posted by: grinning cat on September 25, 2008 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

The funniest thing is that while Obama was waiting for McCain to call him back yesterday, John "Drop Everything and Save the Country!" McCain was meeting with insane Hillary dead ender Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild.

Posted by: shortstop on September 25, 2008 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

The McCain campaign has slid into flat-out farce.

McCain is afraid to debate Obama.

Furthermore, his handlers are afraid that in a debate Biden will make gruel of Sarah Snake-Handler.

This isn't even interesting anymore.


Posted by: hancock on September 25, 2008 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

it really is all about "winning the day" to McCain's people, isn't it? just say something exciting right now, say something contradictory TOMORROW.

Fixed it for you.

But you're right -- I've commented in other threads that Team McCain's obsession with winning every news cycle is biting them in their @$$. The contortions and contradictions became so obvious even the stenographers in the press noticed, and the win-the-cycle mentality caused them to attack the press -- a supremely boneheaded move.

Obama, by contrast, wins when he needs to, and shows little impulse to get lost in the weeds. Indeed, his campaign seems to be modeled on Ali's rope-a-dope: Give McCain enough rope to hang himself, and then pick a key moment to counterpunch.

Posted by: Gregory on September 25, 2008 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

The funniest thing is... - shortstop


Posted by: Madame, to you on September 25, 2008 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Um, that would be "Martial Law", as in the type enforced by the military. :-)

Posted by: Michigoose on September 25, 2008 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

@ Wally Oh they picked it up all right. The today show ran the Letterman clip three times and nailed the McCain talking head about it. Best part was they showed him sitting in the makeup chair getting "done up" The whole world sees it for what it was. A shameless diversion.

Posted by: John R on September 25, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Suspended......Like a pinata.
Whack away.

Posted by: Wayne on September 25, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

This isn't even interesting anymore.

I disagree. I'm enjoying the well-deserved meltdown of the modern Republican Party immensely.

One thing the Reptiles can't stand is losers. And if they're out of power in both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, they can't deliver the cheddar to their constituencies. After licking their wounds for a while, I expect you'll see a fight for the soul of the GOP between the wealth types and the fundies. We should see some interesting realignment as the Republican Party tries to find its way back from the wilderness.

Posted by: Gregory on September 25, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Confusion reigns as the US struggles to cope with a potential economic disaster where even experts don’t have a definitive fix. In conditions of ambiguity and conflicting opinions, one of the worst coping tactics is "find-an-enemy-and-lose-your-confusion." This defense gets rid of confusion only temporarily, by accusing the other side of deception, ignorance, misguided policies, etc. The underlying confusion remains. Read more about this and some 20 other defenses against confusion in "Lethal American Confusion" described on www.AmericanConfusion.com. www.AmericanConfusion.com.

Posted by: 353bill303 on September 25, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

McCain is running scared because an astute debate moderator will ask the candidates this question:

"Senator McCain, does the government's bailout of Wall Street signal the end of the Reagan Revolution?"

January, 1981: Ronald Reagan, "Government isn't the solution to our problems, it is the problem."

September, 2008: George Bush, "Government action is vital to prevent an economic crisis."

In other words, it has taken one generation, basically my adult life (so far) to demonstrate the bankruptcy of modern conservative economic and political ideology. McCain knows Obama will be all over this ahd he is desperately trying to avoid looking like the head usher at a funeral.

So Bush intervenes for him, trying to make McCain look like he's critical to making this all work. But where was Mr. Bipartisancrisissolver in the last 24 months while Wall Street melted down? Busy de-regulating banking, health care and pharmaceuticals, that's where. Head in the sand, sawdust in his mouth.

McCain is like that guy in the Sprint commercial earlier this year. He isn't sticking anything to "the man." McCain is the "the man." A befuddled, old skirt chaser at that.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 25, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

One of Letterman's comments, "This is like busting him getting a manicure" (I might be paraphrasing), was priceless.

Posted by: shortstop on September 25, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

I think this has passed that point of no return.. He looks old, he looks sick, his behavior seems erratic and he seems confused and befuddled,he will stoop to the lowest levels. Sarah Palin seems more ill-suited and unqualified with every passing day, revelation, interview. I think this economic nightmare has spooked alot of people, average, everyday people. When people look at their 401k's, get to work in the morning and wonder "How long will this hold out?", they will be thinking about survival.

McCain will stumble to DC today and get his photo-op with the President, but how much is a photo o with George Bush worth these days? Obama will be there, too. He'll show up cool and collected. The real photo op may be Obama.

November 5th, this week may be looked back on as when the campaign really ended.

Posted by: Saint Zak on September 25, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Palin/McCain are toast. This prolonged series of blunders reminds me of nothing so much as last year's election in Australia, when Bush's Man of Steel down under, John Howard, found his campaign - also based on "experience" - falling apart.

Nothing would go right. None of his old tricks or dog-whistles worked. Everything stage-managed stunt he tried ended up with him stepping on another electoral garden rake, in the style of Sideshow Bob.

What Howard couldn't fight was that he was yesterday's man. He ended up losing the election so profoundly he even suffered the loss of his own safe conservative seat in the Australian Parliament. He hasn't been heard of since, and he's not missed.

Posted by: JK in Sydney on September 25, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Yes. Let us remember that McCain was interviewed by Katie Couric after "suspending" his campaign.

I too call bullshit on this one.

Posted by: CJ on September 25, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Ever notice this: when McCain is frustrated in what he wants -- he goes completely overboard in the other direction.
He wanted Lieberman or Ridge, was told that the pro-lifers wouldn;t accept them, so he went to Palin.
I suspect his natural inclination was to oppose the bailout plan, (distance from Bush, mavericky move, blame DC for bad bill, go populist on the Dems), but was forced by Reid's to vote for bill. So now, he is going to be the great fixer who rallies everyone behind the bailout, so he gets credit for it.
Note to self: the way to get McCain to do what you want him to do, is to tell him he can't do what he wants to do, and piss him off when you tell him.

Posted by: Tom in Ma on September 25, 2008 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Its the timing that's critical, as it makes the point that McCain Just Figured it out that this could be really dangerous, after 11 days of thinking about it. Not as fast on the trigger as someone shooting wolves from a plane.

Posted by: on September 25, 2008 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah I don't get this "suspension"--between last night and today, he's had two of his campaign spokespersons (both women) on the cable news shows talking about what a bold and mavericky leader he is--so the campaign is suspended, but not when they can use the suspension as a campaign talking point.
McCain is now a complete farce.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 25, 2008 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory wrote: "I'm enjoying the well-deserved meltdown of the modern Republican Party immensely."

Enjoy it while you can. For about 40 days. Until the Republicans steal the election with massive voter disenfranchisement and fraud.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 25, 2008 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Is it me, or is this 'suspension' a replay of the stunt he had planned for the RNC - canceling his appearance at the RNC due to the seriousness of that situation? I really can't take this exercise as anythng other than the shameless and pathetic stunt it appears.

Posted by: JoeW on September 25, 2008 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think it's gonna be close enough for them to steal this time, but they sure are gonna try--you can see it already with things like the foreclosure list in Michigan.
But this time, Democrats have more control in the key states.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 25, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Reid said that Dems wouldn't vote for the bailout unless McCain would vote for it.

This completely frustrated McCain's plan, which was to count on the Dems to pass the bill, while he would be in opposition to it, and ride a populist wave to victory.

Unfortunately for McCain, his strategy is still the strategy for much of the GOP House members. They intend to vote against the bill and then run against Bush and the Dems as the "true" conservatives.

McCain's job in Washington is to convince his fellow GOPers that they should vote for this bill, to save his campaign for the Presidency, to save George Bush's legacy and to preserve the illusion that the GOP is a responsible party capable of governing.

Somehow, I think that most GOP congressional folks will find these goals to be somewhat less than compelling.

Reid should up the demand: that Dems won't vote for a bill unless 3/4 of the GOP vote for it -- now that their titular leader is here to save the country. Make the bill pass with GOP votes and let the Dems run against it.

Posted by: tom in ma on September 25, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

This is great training for Obama. If he can make it past the Repigs and into office the rest of the worlds assholes will be childs play. Certainly none of them will be any slimier or more duplicitous.

Posted by: burro on September 25, 2008 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Actually this "suspension" is a re-play of the Hurricane Gustav stunt during the Republican National Convention. Republican stunts have lost their drama and relevance. McCain's campaign simply looks inept.

McCain's campaign has been one weak stunt, argument and ploy after another. About the only thing left for Tucker Eskew's team is the assault on Obama's character. We can expect that in the October home stretch and we need to be prepared.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 25, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

It's easy. "Suspending" means "cratering".

Posted by: Pee Cee on September 25, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Enjoy it while you can. For about 40 days. Until the Republicans steal the election with massive voter disenfranchisement and fraud.

I agree that's the GOP's tactic, SecAn, but I don't see it happen. Here in Ohio (where I'm working), there's a Democratic Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General. republican incompetence and corruption has ushered in Democratic administrations in former Red states.

Plus, the Democrats enjoy an overwhelming registration advantage that should help counterbalance any GOP shennanigans (and hey, they were good enough to vote in the primaries...) You can write some of those as right-leaning Clinton voters, but not all of 'em.

For the reasons you cite, I'm not counting on Florida regardless, even though it's in play. But Obama's playing on McCain's turf, and any one of Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, Indiana and a couple of others flipping blue this time puts Obama in the White House. I just don't see the GOP successfully monkeying with the vote this time.

Posted by: Gregory on September 25, 2008 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

I'm betting the coverage of Couric's interview with McCain is dwarfed by the coverage and replays of Letterman hammering him.

Posted by: Mr Furious on September 25, 2008 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

No wonder he pulled his TV ads. Why pay millions for ads when the media will follow you around 'not campaigning' and broadcast your every utterance for

Posted by: Paul Avery on September 25, 2008 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

And Palin's holding a rally in Philly today. Nice suspension!

Posted by: g on September 25, 2008 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

And Palin's holding a rally in Philly today. Nice suspension!

Yes she does have nice suspension.

Did I type that out loud?

Posted by: lobbygow on September 25, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK



don't post before drinking coffee.

Posted by: grinning cat on September 25, 2008 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

everything pj in jesusland said above

This suspension BS to solve the crisis is just a hail mary move which _has_ to provide the last bump for himself, there isn't anything else left but to fling sh*t.

How long can this hold out? Indeed. This is one heckofa election system we got for ourselves.
Someone posted months ago on carpetbagger, this guy shouldn't be within 10 points of Obama. Except now it should be updated to 20 points.

Posted by: Kevin on September 25, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Now he feels he needs to vote in the senate? Obviously has not been a priority this past year.

In May 2007, it was reported that McCain had missed 42 consecutive votes (five straight weeks) in the Senate while he was conducting his presidential campaign. From March to May, McCain only attended three floor votes in the Senate. During the current Congress, Senator McCain has missed 62.6% of the votes. That is the highest percentage of missed votes in this Senate session, with Senator Tim Johnson, who had to undergo brain surgery, second missing 50.3%. Senator Obama is third with 43.7%. [3] Only two Congressional members have missed more votes this session, Rep. Charles Norwood (R-GA) and Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), who both passed away while in office.

Posted by: deddancer on September 25, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK



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