Maybe John McCain is being totally altruistic in his decision to suspend his presidential campaign so he can concentrate on fast-tracking the $700 billion Wall Street bailout. Maybe he really thinks the bailout will save us from a depression, and that it won’t get passed if he and his opponent are not in Washington scrambling for mike time. I am a simple man, with little understanding of high finance or Beltway politics, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I mean, it’s not going to break my heart to miss out on a few days worth of cheesy political ads.
But trying to pull out of this debate with Obama — that’s a little harder sell. McCain’s people have tried to cast the debate as a frivolous campaign event in a time of national crisis. Right. We’ve got better things to do than judge the qualifications of the two men would be commander in chief for the next four years. These men belong in Washington, damn it, so they can help throw cash at those who, in a less enlightened country, would be getting stoned instead.
I’m glad Obama’s people are having none of it. Far from it: They’re delighted at the opening. It’s only the need to project presidential decorum that keeps them from tucking their thumbs in their armpits and walking around clucking like chickens. Best sound bite of the day goes to Obama himself: “It is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.”
So it is. I’m no fan of the heavily managed debates we’ve seen so far, but having both men restate their goals and resumes on the same stage seems like a better use of their time than towing camera crews around the halls of Congress. If the Wall Street crisis has come at a bad time for McCain, tough. Nothing could be less presidential right now than ducking a showdown when he finds himself at a serious disadvantage.