Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 25, 2008

WHAT KIND OF GAME IS MCCAIN PLAYING?.... Last night, Barack Obama and John McCain issued a joint statement that didn't say much. The two agreed that this is a time to "rise above politics for the good of the country," adding that we "cannot risk an economic catastrophe," but the statement avoided any policy details.

Well, at least the joint statement did. While the McCain campaign distributed the statement as it was written, the Obama campaign included an appendage, explaining that it reflected only Obama's thinking, and outlining a series of principles that he'd hoped both sides could endorse. It included a now-predictable list: oversight, a path for taxpayers to recover their money, a mechanism to prevent Wall Street executives from profiting from taxpayer funds, foreclosure protections, and a ban on earmarks in the bill.

Here's the odd part: John McCain had said, as recently as Tuesday, that these are the exact same principles he wants to see included in any bailout package. On these points, McCain and Obama are on the same page. So why not say so in the joint statement?

Marc Ambinder reports that the McCain campaign "did not want to include them."

That does seem odd, doesn't it? On Tuesday, McCain publicly articulates five principles he wants to see in the package. On Wednesday, the Obama campaign asks McCain to endorse those exact same principles in a public statement, but the McCain campaign balks. Taegan Goddard considered the context:

Interestingly, when President Bush addressed the nation just minutes later, he essentially agreed to the exact same set of principles in his own speech. So the question is: Why wouldn't McCain agree to a fairly innocuous, Mom and apple pie set of conditions for a bill?

Democrats fear this morning that McCain is setting up a scenario in which he will vote against the bill, rally conservatives to his side and, most importantly, distance himself from both President Bush and Congress before the election.

Kevin added, "[W]hy would Democrats be so suspicious that they're about to be double crossed? John McCain is too honorable a man to do that, isn't he?"

Steve Benen 1:13 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

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Comments

All the democrats should wait for McCain to vote before they do. Make him go on record first - if he votes no have enough safe D's vote no to kill the bill. If he votes yes then changes to no during the vote they have him on record playing politics with the vote. And if he votes yes the bill can go through.

They should put this bill around the Republicans feet like they were cement blocks.

Posted by: Kelly on September 25, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Why would the Democrats back this bill then if McCain and the other Republicans are not going to be included? If the bill turns out well, the Republicans get all of the benefits, if the bill backfires the Democrats take all of the blame.

Posted by: Guscat on September 25, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Why would the Democrats back this bill then if McCain and the other Republicans are not going to be included? If the bill turns out well, the Republicans get all of the benefits, if the bill backfires the Democrats take all of the blame.

Posted by: Guscat on September 25, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

I can actually see this scenario playing out. McCain is desparate to separate himself from Bush and this provides him with the perfect chance to claim to be 'maverick' and 'Not Bush' all in one blow. He's re-inventing himself (again) as a populist. He's read the tea-leaves and knows there is enormous public hatred for this bailout. NOBODY thinks handing $700 billion to same people who got us into this mess is a good idea.

The problem for the Democrats is how to respond. Unfortunately they are falling for the standard Bush strategy for cutting off debate by trying to scare everybody.

I am deeply concerned that Reid and Pelosi will fall for it again, cave in and give Bush exactly what he is asking for with little to no support from Congressional Republicans.

McCain gets to play populist, Democrats look weak (again) and Obama gets cut off at the knees by his own party.

Posted by: thorin-1 on September 25, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

McCain won't vote.

If it's a tough one his instinct is to simply not vote, and then feed a line of shit to the press.

"See, McCain is a maverick!"

Posted by: gang green on September 25, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't Obama vote after McCain in the roll call? I think Obama should vote the same as McCain if he pulls a stunt like this. Obama can give the same reasons (it doesn't protect the taxpayer enough and I'll revise this after I'm elected, blah blah blah).

Cynical. Yes. Deflating to McCain's newfound "populism" stunts. Yes, again.

Posted by: colonpowwow on September 25, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Why would the Democrats back this bill then if McCain and the other Republicans are not going to be included?

Because the Democrats are as dumb as Charlie Brown in the football scenario.

Posted by: tavella on September 25, 2008 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure I understand the machinations involved here. I gather the crux of the matter is that both sides don't really like the bill and are trying to pin it on the other party?

I think what gets obscured is just how much money $700 billion actually is. That's an obscene amount of money. As a point of comparison, Canada's debt (not deficit, but debt) is roughly $500 billion.

And where will the money come from? China again? Surely not the taxpayers, if they can fund a war on credit, then surely they can bail out wall street on credit...right?

Posted by: neilt on September 25, 2008 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is monkey wrenching the process to delay it past Friday so he can avoid the debate. McCain has a conflict in seeing this thing move forward in a timely manner.

Posted by: lou on September 25, 2008 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

If Palin ever deigned to take questions from the press someone should ask her if the bailout, like the Iraq war, is "God's plan for us."

Posted by: Dennis - SGMM on September 25, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Just in From CNN.com
Lawmakers from both parties in House, Senate say they have bailout deal; will take it to Treasury Secretary Paulson.
And all without Johhny Macs input however did they do it - he must have given them a phone call

Posted by: John R on September 25, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Why do I feel like I'm watching the voting circle at the end of an episode of "Survivor?" And why do I feel like we're all about to get voted off the island?

Posted by: chrenson on September 25, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

My friends, cut the bullshit!

Posted by: John McCain on September 25, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I don't want my Democratic Senators or Representative, or Senator Obama, to vote for any bailout bill, period.

The Bush administration has not made ANY case that a $700 BILLION bailout of Wall Street is needed, or that it will do any good for anyone, other than the CheneyBush cronies and financial backers who will pocket the taxpayers' money.

All they are offering is the same kind of content-free fearmongering that they used to bamboozle the Congress into authorizing their long planned war of aggression against Iraq.

As far as I can tell, this is nothing but the CheneyBush gang blatantly looting the US Treasury to enrich their ultra-rich cronies before they leave office. It is nothing but a grand theft from the American people.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 25, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe so many people want Obama or the Dems to bet 700 billion dollars on what low-information voters want rather than what economists recommend. If anything, they should postpone the vote until next week, and let the political emotion die down a bit, while actually explaining how the bailout will help, or what will happen if they do nothing.

Posted by: Danp on September 25, 2008 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

TYPO, Benen:

You wrote "On Tuesday, McCain publicly articulates five principles he wants to see in the package. On Wednesday, the Obama campaign asks McCain to endorse those exact same principles in a public statement, but the McCain campaign balks."

I think you mean, "On Tuesday, OBAMA ..."
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on September 25, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

@Grand Moff Texan:
Obama laid them out on Sunday, McCain repeated them on Tuesday, then McCain wouldn't agree to putting them in the joint statement on Wednesday after Obama asked him to.

Posted by: jbb on September 25, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK


Why do I have the sinking sensation that we're going to have to put up with boatloads of faux democrats clogging up every message board in sight screaming on high about how disappointed they now are with Obama because he "rolled over" or "bent over" or some other asinine metaphor?

How much you wanna bet we're in for FISA Redux??

*note to self: stay as far away from Salon as humanly possible for the next two weeks*

Posted by: neilt on September 25, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Sullivan is saying that there is speculation that McCain will vote no on the bailout bill. If we know anything about McCain it is that he is not trustworthy.

What the hell is up with these Gallup poll numbers. So much for that weighted dem argument.

Posted by: Scott F. on September 25, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure I understand the machinations involved here. I gather the crux of the matter is that both sides don't really like the bill and are trying to pin it on the other party?

There are competing bills. The first one was the Paulson plan, which was basically a three-page ransom note saying, "Give us $700 billion with no strings attached or the country gets it."

Democrats have been working on a bill that puts some strings on the bailout, like limiting executive compensation for companies that sign up. It looks like we may have a bipartisan bill that actually has some controls in it, unlike the Paulson plan.

Here's the thing -- we do need SOME kind of bailout, because the banks really are in big trouble and they really could cause a financial disaster. There's a reason Atrios has been referring to it as "The Big Shitpile" for months now. The problem was Bush and Paulson trying to insist on no-strings-attached money.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on September 25, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Obama came out with the same principles 48 hours before McCain did on Tuesday.

Obama needs to call McCain out on his original support of these principles and subsequent refusal to include the list with the joint statement. It needs to be made very public so Johnny Mac can't pull a fast one.

Posted by: bdop4 on September 25, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

FYI, John McCain's surrogates, at the encouragement of Fox News' fair and balanced anchors, are falsely asserting that Obama copied his Statement of Principles from McCain.

McCain surrogate Nancy Pfotenhauer: "I'm glad Obama has those principals (e.g. independent oversight, compensation restrictions,...), but obviously McCain was the one out front."

As Steve pointed out, the shared principles (that Obama developed first) were Obama's reason for privately offering to present a joint statement. McCain's response? Essentially, to spit in Obama's face...country first and all that.

Posted by: CJ on September 25, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, jbb. This week has really flown by.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on September 25, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Senate Democrats would do well to ask themselves just how trustworthy the Republicans have proven in the last eight years.

Posted by: Gregory on September 25, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

No surprises here. This would be the third time the Bush administration has ended up endorsing what Obama has proposed, starting with the Iraq timeline, even if they've tried to quibble about it. McCain can't afford to have it happen again. Can't have him looking irrelevant!

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

I have a Friday night replacement for McCain.

Cynthia McKinney is ready to go!
I have a Friday night replacement for McCain.

Cynthia McKinney is ready to go!

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 25, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think you mean "addendum," not "appendage."

Posted by: bobbo on September 25, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

"They should put this bill around the Republicans feet like they were cement blocks."

Posted by: Kelly on September 25, 2008

The Bush/Paulson idea is garbage.

The Dodd bill still has $700B.

Whatever McCain can vote against to appear mavericky and "with the people", then he'll do it in a heartbeat and leave Free-spending Massachussetts Liberals (like Barney Frank) holding the empty bag.

Democrats should never go for irresponsible spending at a time like this. It's ... irresponsible.

Dems need to make the Republicans beg for any spending. That's the only way we would know they really really will vote for it. Ha. The hypocrites would probably go on t.v. in primetime and beg for spending and then go on the Senate floor and vote AGAINST it.

Dems need to be very very careful.

Posted by: MarkH on September 25, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

I smell a rat. I say the voting doesn't close until after McCain votes. If he votes no, every Dem in the Senate switches his or her vote to no.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 25, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

"And where will the money come from? China again?"

Posted by: neilt on September 25, 2008
------------

Recently China announced they are banning all loans to American banks. Apparently they want to remain isolated from this disease.

Posted by: MarkH on September 25, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

If Democratic leadership suspects this, they should table the bill and allow McCain to skip the debate, ceding the stage to Obama. He gets burned, and there will be time to limit the damage with the week or so moving ahead for the dems.

Posted by: TBone on September 25, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

He's just going to get progressively flakey as the campaign rolls on. I think that both Palin's and McCain's nerves have snapped and they are becoming incoherent. Neither of them have any faith left in each other or confidence in themselves. His only hope is to do something extreme and have it misinterpreted as a good thing. If that/this doesn't work, I wouldn't be surprised if the old fart has a literal breakdown. He appears to be psychologically unstable. He's going to cook his own goose.

Posted by: beans on September 25, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

There is only one flaw, McCain would have to explain why these are bad:
- oversight
- a path for taxpayers to recover their money
- a mechanism to prevent Wall Street executives from profiting from taxpayer funds
- foreclosure protections
- a ban on earmarks in the bill

He could explain one or two away, but if his bill doesn't include most of them, it will not fly and hello, hello, hello, are republicans in the majority these days ? Jesus, talk about a bunch of frighten children. McCain can't pass jack unless he gets some D votes.

I think McCain didn't endorse the points because... what could it be, I don't know, maybe the fricken suits running his program will not let him ??

If D's had a lick of sense they would pass some temp legislation to take this out to February when the politics will play a way smaller role.

Posted by: ScottW on September 25, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever is going on, it scared Bush too.. I think the world's investors/creditors to the US obviously have pressured the fed to "clean that shit up"/bail out the bad debt you sold us. Dog only knows what's going to happen next. I assume that this 7 trillion figure that somebody pulled out of their ass is only to cover the massive mortgage defaults, that's not the only thing we should be worried about. Really, most of these people should be going to jail and Dog only knows how they will attract and trust or business after their sorry asses have been rescued. I'm not usually a doom and gloom guy but the worst could be well past some $700,000,000,000,000 bail out. Hell of a job all you Bushie-Cheney Weenies! One Hell of a job.. Time for a new American Revolution.

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on September 25, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, back to proof-reading class. Anywho, the last thing we need is that Asshole McCain playing presidential contest politics with an issue this critically substantial.

Posted by: The bumbling Trollop on September 25, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

At this point, what incentive do Democrats have in passing McCain's bill? If they pass it, McCain gets all of the short-term credit, and looks very presidential. It may also turn control of the Congress back to the Republicans. And what incentive do they now have to pass the Paulson proposal?

The question I have is what's next for McCain? McCain can't very well leave Washington without some major piece of legislation and resume his campaign. And yet, at some point he has to start campaigning. He can't continue to pretend like he's not campaigning while running ads, appearing on TV shows, etc.

This is truly becoming more and more bizarre.

Posted by: Guscat on September 26, 2008 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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