Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 26, 2008

WHAT ON EARTH IS JOHN MCCAIN DOING?.... Let me get this straight -- John McCain left the campaign trail to "help" wrap up a bailout deal in response to the crisis on Wall Street. When a compromise was reached that included everything McCain said he wanted, he decided not to take "yes" for an answer, and sided with far-right House Republicans, who have their own ridiculous plan, and who've never liked McCain anyway.

A few phrases come to mind to describe this madness, but "country first" isn't one of them.

There's no shortage of angles to this, of course, but the one thing I've been trying to wrap my head around is what McCain is doing in D.C. in the first place. Before he arrived, negotiators were making progress. After he arrived, talks broke down. Before he arrived, McCain and his campaign indicated that the bailout was a necessary evil. After he arrived, no one seems clear on exactly what McCain wants.

There was one participant at the White House who took on the role of "the old hand at consensus building, and as the real face of bipartisan politics," but his name was Barack Obama.

For his part, McCain "rarely came close to the Capitol suites and committee rooms where the talks were taking place." He showed up for a meeting at the White House -- which, according to the Bush gang, was McCain's idea -- but while Obama pressed Henry Paulson on policy details, McCain sat silently. At one point, McCain briefly touted the House GOP "plan," which Bush immediately rejected. After the meeting, McCain did some interviews, and was back in one of his homes by 6 p.m.

His day of destructive grandstanding and substance-free work was complete. For McCain, who obviously couldn't care less about the economy or the nation, it was "mission accomplished" -- nothing got done, it was at least partially his fault, and there's now a chance he can pick up the pieces of a process he helped break and pat himself on the back.

E. J. Dionne Jr. concluded, "McCain's boisterous intervention -- and particularly his grandstanding on the debate -- was less a presidential act than the tactical ploy of a man worried that his chances of becoming president might be slipping away."

You don't say.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (42)

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Comments

John, ever the sailor, an eye for nookie, but no idea he should be going for substance.

Posted by: Ted76 on September 26, 2008 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

New McCain Bumper sticker:

...your country comes first
do you spit or swallow?

Posted by: effluviantOne on September 26, 2008 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

well, i for one am kind of glad to see this overly rushed bailout program fail. i also feel something should be done, but bailing out failing banks because they made some dumb investments isn't the solution. instead, i prefer the idea of having the government invest additional capital in troubled institutions, to enable them to deal with their bad loans in a rational manner, but the difference is the government becomes an OWNER that will reap the rewards of saving the institution instead of being stuck with a bunch of bad loans and nothing to show for it.

orange

Posted by: just bill on September 26, 2008 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's just mad because he couldn't get the government to arrest Obama.

Posted by: Bob M on September 26, 2008 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

You might be right, but if you listen to Wolf and the rest they are saying that the man on the white horse was heroic to risk his campaign to "save the American economy." Yesterday when McCain was called on his non-suspension suspension grandstand, Wolf barked back.

If the press doesn't tell the truth, McCain is going to get away with this bit of theater.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 26, 2008 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

to enable them to deal with their bad loans in a rational manner - just bill

The problem is not that the banks lack rationale. It's that their priority is short term profit. Adding capital doesn't change that.

Posted by: Danp on September 26, 2008 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

I do have to agree, I would much rather have a good plan that protects the American taxpayer than a rushed and poorly conceived plan of the type normally proposed by Bush and the Republicans.

Right now the Democrats can say they have done all they can, it is up to the administration to persuade McCain and the house Republicans.

America economy isn't going to collapse by Monday or even by a month from Monday. In the meantime we can muddle along.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 26, 2008 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

You have to bomb the village before you can save it.

A very confused electorate is McCain's best playing field.

Posted by: lou on September 26, 2008 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

Danp - i don't disagree. however, if the government was now an owner, the priorities would then be their priorities, not the old owners' priorities.

orange

Posted by: just bill on September 26, 2008 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

I know less about the economy than John McCain. But, I have little doubt that this is all the result of a few key republican players attempting to make Rove's dream manifest and throw the election.

It's practically October, people. Is any of this surprising?

Posted by: chrenson on September 26, 2008 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

just bill - agreed.

On a related note, yesterday, after Dems were claiming to have an agreement in principal, Richard Shelby (R-AL) came out with a petitition signed by a lot of economists saying they don't agree with the new plan, He certainly suggested it was this new compromise they disagreed with. Here is that letter. And it clearly is a response to Paulson's original plan, which no one on earth ever supported.

Posted by: Danp on September 26, 2008 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

What did that Republican say in the Ron Susskind book -- "we're an empire now. We create our own reality." That is really what McCain is doing. He can't win in the real world so he and his public relations team have to create their own reality in which John McCain is the man on horseback leading a cavalry charge to the rescue.

The corrupt and corpulent Dick Morris was practically drooling with glee on the O'Reilly program the other day at the "brilliance" of McCain's maneuver because it allowed McCain to play savior of the president's plan. But that could only happen so long as Democrats were "already on board" said Morris and House Republicans refused to go along. This was a day before the House Republicans did in fact blow up the Bush bailout proposal.

I am not sure how you can claim to be a great statesman by delivering a renegade band of congressmen from your own party to support a bill sponsored by your own party's president. But that apparently is what the McCain people have in mind, and so they had to make sure that House Republicans first stalled the entire process. Looks like they did it.

Posted by: Ted Frier on September 26, 2008 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

STEVE: READ THIS --

"U.S. authorities shut down top savings and loan bank Washington Mutual on Thursday, selling its assets to JPMorgan Chase, while in Europe shares in Belgian-Dutch financial group Fortis came under pressure. JPMorgan said it would be business as usual on Friday morning."

http://www.cnbc.com/id/26895236

An earlier version of the story specifically said that WaMu was hoping for a deal yesterday so that the FDIC wouldn't have to SEIZE its assets. This is the largest banking failure in U.S. history, and it happened the day after John McCain and his nutty friends in the Republican House caucus blew up the bailout deal -- making KOS happy as hell. (Hi Kos!!! Anything for a molatov cocktail, eh bro???)

This story may not be sexy on the blogs right now, but I think Wall St. is going to notice what happened.

Posted by: The Phantom on September 26, 2008 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

I believe what we are witnessing is the realtime implosion of the GOP, the consequences of which smash any hope for a near term political solution.

Posted by: Will Divide on September 26, 2008 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

"You might be right, but if you listen to Wolf and the rest they are saying that the man on the white horse was heroic to risk his campaign to "save the American economy." Yesterday when McCain was called on his non-suspension suspension grandstand, Wolf barked back."

But no one listens to Wolf. David Letterman has the public's ear. The majority of americans could probaly tell you Letterman said about McCain. How many know what Wolf said?

This isn't good for McCain...at all.

Posted by: Saint Zak on September 26, 2008 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Wow...I just looked at all the leading liberal blogs, and nobody's talking about WaMu's collapse, or how the banking sector is down big, or how McCain and the Republican House are directly responsible because they cut the hope of settlement out from under the market.

Do I care about Wall St.? No. But aren't we all trying to figure out how to contain this giant freaking financial wildfire so it doesn't hit Main St.? Isn't that the goal???

Well WaMu WAS Main St. Yeah, it was sick, but now it's gone -- and the government had to step in. And J.P. Morgan may have bought the assets, but J.P. Morgan has its own problems, and buying assets only cheats debit death in the short term. If their stock price falls and their exposure to debt mounts, they go down, too.

It's unbelievable to me that nobody's talking about this. Steve, WTF???

Posted by: The Phantom on September 26, 2008 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Danp said:
On a related note, yesterday, after Dems were claiming to have an agreement in principal, Richard Shelby (R-AL) came out with a petitition signed by a lot of economists saying they don't agree with the new plan, He certainly suggested it was this new compromise they disagreed with.

It's not my field, so I didn't recognize any names on the petition. But before I pay any attention to what these people think, I need to know --
- Do they believe in Supply-side economics?
- Were they arguing that the business cycle is no longer in effect?
- Do they think "Free Trade", as defined by the Bush administration, is a viable economic policy?
- Do they agree with John McCain's plan for more tax cuts?
- Did they support deregulation of the banking industry?

If the answer to any of these questions was "yes" then the opinions of theses economists don't matter any more to me than Sarah Palin's opinion.

Posted by: SteveT on September 26, 2008 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

a cynical person might say that McCain went to DC SPECIFICALLY to break down the bailout talks so he wouldn'tbe humiliated at the debates tonight.

I'll leave that theory for a cynical person to make.

Posted by: slappy magoo on September 26, 2008 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

As Obama tries to evoke Camelot, the rest of the cast goes for Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Black Knight" Clinton, "Sir Lancelot" McCain, "Witch Burning Peasant" Palin, "Dennis" Kucinich...

Posted by: apm on September 26, 2008 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

"McCain sat silently."

In other words, "McCain sat there with his thumb up his ass."

I think I'd like to see that phrase tossed around a bit more. Seems even more damning than blaming him for the House Republicans idiocy. By all accounts he was the one who called this meeting . . . so he could sit there with his thumb up his ass.

Posted by: Bill B. on September 26, 2008 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

"McCain sat silently."

In other words, "McCain sat there with his thumb up his ass."

I think I'd like to see that phrase tossed around a bit more. Seems even more damning than blaming him for the House Republicans idiocy. By all accounts he was the one who called this meeting . . . so he could sit there with his thumb up his ass.

Posted by: Bill B. on September 26, 2008 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

"McCain sat silently."

In other words, "McCain sat there with his thumb up his ass."

I think I'd like to see that phrase tossed around a bit more. Seems even more damning than blaming him for the House Republicans idiocy. By all accounts he was the one who called this meeting . . . so he could sit there with his thumb up his ass.

Posted by: Bill B. on September 26, 2008 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

STEVE!!!!

Richard Shelby said this morning, Sept 26, on Morning Joe, that John McCain NEVER EVEN CALLED HIM all last week.

Shelby said that the FIRST time he'd talked to McCain was "a few minutes" at the White House meeting yesterday.

So McCain was SO concerned about this major crisis that the FIRST time he connected with the key Republican guy on the banking committee was YESTERDAY????

Posted by: msr on September 26, 2008 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Steve,

His day of destructive grandstanding and substance-free work was complete. For McCain, who obviously couldn't care less about the economy or the nation, it was "mission accomplished" -- nothing got done, it was at least partially his fault, and there's now a chance he can pick up the pieces of a process he helped break and pat himself on the back.
Thanks for this. I laughed -- and that may be all we have left.

Posted by: Jassalasca Jape on September 26, 2008 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

sloppy magoo said:
As Obama tries to evoke Camelot, the rest of the cast goes for Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Black Knight" Clinton, "Sir Lancelot" McCain, "Witch Burning Peasant" Palin, "Dennis" Kucinich...

... the pack-bearing, coconut shell-clopping lackey who, when the knights reverently declare that they have arrived at Camelot, mumbles, "It's only a model."

Posted by: SteveT on September 26, 2008 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone is waiting for the markets to open. Once they see the crappy start and down ward spiral you'll see the press go wild and hunt the Repugs down and demand action. The action must be swift to stem the bleeding. McShames polical ploys yesterday were a disgrace and will KILL him in the polls and the election....i say let him nosedive.

Posted by: wom89 on September 26, 2008 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

John McCain has done lost his mind.

Posted by: Lori on September 26, 2008 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

"At one point, McCain briefly touted the House GOP "plan," which Bush immediately rejected."

Does anyone else find it ironic that McCain is making Bush seem very presidential by comparison ? Maybe Bush is actually learning a thing or two about how the world really works, and not the Republican fantasy version of it.

Posted by: OhNoNotAgain on September 26, 2008 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Great Moments in History
July 4th, 1776

"We will now sign this Declaration of Independence."
"Gentlemen, Senator McCain is here!"
"God save our gracious King! "

Posted by: Himself on September 26, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

I said this somewhere else recently, so I guess I'm repeating myself. McCain is starting to look like the classic 'histrionic personality' who will do whatever is necessary to force everyone's attention back to them any time they feel they're not the center of attention anymore. Most of us have had to deal with these 'drama queens' in our personal lives and we know how demanding and unreasonable they can be. Sadly, McCain seems to have never matured.

Posted by: march_hare on September 26, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

McCain is intentionally building up hype because the debate is mostly about foreign policy, his supposed strong suit. More people will tune in just to see if he shows up, and he will.

Posted by: Franklin on September 26, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

The problem is that McCain thinks grandstanding is what governing should be. Obama can grandstand occasionally, but unlike McCain, he has a solid set of core beliefs, and his tenure in the Illinois state legislature gave him a respect for legislative craftsmanship. McCain is just interest in getting his face before a camera. There was a recent article in the New Republic about how an Obama/McCain feud existed long before the campaign. The basic gist was that McCain thought Obama was a post-partisan grandstander like he is, but Obama proved that he couldn't be "rolled" by McCain on substantive issues.

Posted by: jonp72 on September 26, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

John McCain's campaign is toast, he's on mushrooms or demented or something and Sarah Palin just seems more ridiculous each time she opens her mouth. This is the E-ticket to Hell. Open the Champaign ladies; this pig (with lipstick) is cooked.

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on September 26, 2008 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Wolf Bliztzer is a fucking CORPORATE NAZI .. HE SHOULD BE FROGGED MARCHED OUT OF THE PROTECTION OF HIS CORPORATE STUDIOS AND RIGHT INTO PRISON AND TURNED INTO A BITCH FOR THE ENJOYMENT OF THE INMATES ... 'saving the american economomy' .. what a crock of shit .. what he means is 'saving my super wealthy tax breaks' ........ sieg heil you corporate nazi ..go change you DEPENDS so you can stop shuffling those nazi feet of yours

Posted by: stormskies on September 26, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think any rational American wants to bail out these companies for their irresponsibility.
Why should the American people have to bail out yet another failed company because its own financial officers cant do simple bookwork?
You don't hand out 30 and 40 million dollar severance packages while the rest of America is struggling to pay their light bills and gas for their cars.
Why rush into something that should by all rights take a while to come up with a suitable solution?
We cant keep bailing out these companies while the rest of the country cant even pay their monthly bills.
Is anyone racing to help us? Does anyone give a damn about us? My answer is no.
Obama should have been put into prison for playing with the lives of our servicemen and women. No American has the right to deal with these types of issues without proper authority. The Logan Act was put in place for a reason and if our country chooses to ignore yet another law broken by Obama then the American people need to speak up and speak loudly. We will not accept this kind of behavior from anyone, including Obama.
What do you think would have happened to McCain had he gone over to make a deal to suspend troop withdrawal until he is the president? He would have been slapped with a violation of the Logan Act so fast his head would spin. Why then is Obama above the laws of our country?
NOBODY SHOULD BE ABOVE THE LAWS OF OUR COUNTRY, NOBODY!

Posted by: DaddysDarlin on September 26, 2008 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, I didn't realize that this blog was infested with Obamabots, so any real advice will simply be called racist, or were going to lose Roe V Wade, etc. The last eight years it hasn't been overthrown under a republican presidency, but for sure this time under a republican presidency Roe V Wade is toast right?
Good Lord, I think you need both sides of any position presented, however, I am smart enough to know that when you Obamabots invade a blog, the truth is nowhere to be found.

Posted by: DaddysDarlin on September 26, 2008 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

- Do they believe in Supply-side economics?
- Were they arguing that the business cycle is no longer in effect?
- Do they think "Free Trade", as defined by the Bush administration, is a viable economic policy?
- Do they agree with John McCain's plan for more tax cuts?
- Did they support deregulation of the banking industry?

Judging from the petition, I wouldn't necessarily conclude they agree on any of these issues. All they really argue is that Paulson's original plan is poorly thought out, ambiguous, and expensive. More importantly, it says nothing about how any or all felt about the compromise, though Shelby uses their petition to suggest they agree with him.

Posted by: danp on September 26, 2008 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

DaddysDarlin...

At least Obamabots know which guy believes in veracity.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on September 26, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

The big problem for McCain is that his campaign is so wrapped-up into winning each newscycle that they never ask "And then what?" after every stunt they come up with. Instead, they pat themselves on the back and start figuring out the best way to sell their gimmick.

In this case, they were so in love with the idea of McCain pretending to put aside his campaign and riding in to save the day that they didn't bother coming up with a plan he could actually use to save the day. And while he pretended to be happy with the arrangement, I'm sure he actually felt like a big idiot sitting there with nothing to say while Obama looked presidential. As with all his gambles, this one might pay off for him. But I really don't see how.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on September 26, 2008 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, I didn't realize that this blog was infested with Obamabots

Much as the label is tired, when did you first discover the infestation? How many minutes? Hours? Days? This really doesn't reflect on you that well. Of course you must consider (both sides and all, Dear Lordy Gordy Grape, don’tcha know), I'd rather be an Obamatron than blindly subscribe to a senile opportunist and a completely incompetent Jezoid with lipstick on. But, what was your point again?

Posted by: on September 26, 2008 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

I said it before, and I'll keep saying it.

McCain's actions, "suspending" the campaign and killing the deal, were straight out of "Karl Rove 101": When the news is about to get ugly, do something dramatic to distract the media.

These moves were deliberately intended to take the spotlight off of Sarah Palin and Rick Davis.

Posted by: CJ on September 26, 2008 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

This is typical McCain style. Ignore everything until right before the end and then parachute in to claim the credit for it. What's different here is that it's in the full view of the public eye and not hidden in the secret cloisters of the Senate. Note to McCain: It's not working anymore, Grampa.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on September 26, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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