John McCain has suspended his campaign in an apparent effort to bring his financial expertise to Washington, an effort I’m sure is in no way related to trailing by 9 points with a debate around the corner. The Obama campaign, not looking to play follower, claims they initiated contact. Two good reactions:
What’s changed today in the financial crisis other than John McCain’s poll numbers tanking? Isn’t this the campaign equivalent of faking an injury when you’re down late in the 4th quarter? Note too that McCain was in the midst of debate prep when he made this decision.
Look at what appears to have happened. Obama reached out to McCain privately to agree to a shared set of bailout principles. McCain went off the handle again and tried to use the crisis as a way to call off the debates.
But this only makes sense if you’ve been running, well, John McCain’s campaign. A bread-and-circus show meant to distract Americans from the issues at hand. If that’s your model of politics, then it makes a certain sense to suspend your relentless festival of diversion to focus on the financial crisis. Debates, however, are not planned by Steve Schmidt or run as 30-second ads. They are a moment when the presidential candidates appear before the American people and articulate their agendas in detail and at length. There’s every reason to focus tomorrow’s debate on the economic crisis, but no reason to cancel it. And, indeed, McCain is not canceling everything. He is still giving his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative. He is simply hiding from the debate. He’s a kid pulling the fire alarm because final is coming up and he hasn’t studied. Such a panicked response to declining poll numbers and major national events does not inspire confidence. You don’t get to call time out when you’re president.
I’m not entirely sure how this will play out, but I’m inclined to believe this makes McCain look like a huge a pussy. Were he not getting his ass kicked and not poised to get drubbed in a debate, what are the odds he suspends his campaign? Also, note the last time McCain pulled this sort of stunt, the public soured on it pretty quickly.