CNN is leading on “McCain takes hit from bailout collapse”. After 10 days of incoherence on the economic crisis, McCain probably had no alternative but to try something dramatic – his return to Washington.
But his impulsive action has brilliantly served to show up McCain’s major fault. He makes “grand gestures” which are, in fact, impulsive and ill-judged. He has also been shown not to be a team player.
As Michael Tomasky said at the weekend in the Guardian in an article entitled “How McCain made a drama out of a crisis“:
Behind the scenes, Obama was apparently trying to play a constructive role. The New York Times reported of the meeting that “participants said Mr Obama peppered [treasury secretary] Henry Paulson with questions, while Mr McCain said little”.
By contrast, McCain has been almost entirely about the theatrics – trying to swoop into town and finagle it so he could either take credit for any deal or (more likely) grandly announce he would regretfully have to “put country first” and oppose it.
He certainly hasn’t been engaged on a substantive level. He acknowledged to a Cleveland reporter on Tuesday he hadn’t read Paulson’s proposal, released two days earlier and running to all of three pages. Back in Washington, he clearly allied himself with the Republican intransigents.
…Even McCain supporters will acknowledge high finance is not his strong suit. But in this matter, which will clearly consume a great deal of the next president’s time, McCain was concerned wholly with how to gain political advantage. He stood before the mirror, awaiting his close-up.
Presidential campaigns (and their coverage) can be vacuous enough that it just may work in the short term. Americans able to think longer-term saw that experience and judgment don’t always walk hand-in-hand.