Thursday, September 25, 2008

Personal Aside: If Agreement Comes by Friday, McCain’s Hail Mary Pass May Work Out with a Tie for Both Candidates.


A Thrill a Minute.

John McCain has had extraordinary good luck with Hail Mary passes. His support of the surge when there was little public belief that Iraq could be saved…and his reaching out to Sarah Palin which caught the Obama people off-balance for at least 10 days. This latest effort, suspending his campaign, ditching the Friday debate and asking Obama to do the same, in favor of going to Washington to be seen on TV with his sleeves rolled up while his opponent glad hands, was another attempt. By declining to do so and with a cool remark—that a president should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time—Obama scored a point on McCain.

Then Bush intervened on the side of McCain and personally invited both of them…McCain and Obama…to a meeting with congressional leaders in the White House at 10 a.m. EST today. There is an indication that Bush gave McCain a hunch that things will all work out and resolution will be made Friday. Thus if that is so, the debate will go on and both candidates will be seen as being justified—McCain for putting solution of the country’s most severe economic problem since the Depression over campaigning…and Obama for his cogent remark that presidential candidates should be able to both campaign and do government work.
If things are worked out in Washington and both of them score a tie, McCain will be a very lucky guy. If it doesn’t work out, my original five reservations about McCain’s latest Hail Mary may hit him with a vengeance. These reservations are based on an uncertainty that things will work out initially. Here goes:
To make this work. McCain will have make certain that he takes on a major role in the congressional negotiations which will involve muscling himself into key negotiations and get a favorable approval to play a major role from the White House. The White House may let him move into the negotiations but he will have to worry that the resulting compromise will still incur severe public disfavor as the immigration compromise did which nearly destroyed him. Or he may find himself irrelevant after having injected himself into the negotiations and thus become a laughingstock.

2. Barack Obama’s response struck me as singularly astute and well-reasoned—that as a president has to deal with many crises at a time their debate should go on.

By backing off from the debate and given Obama’s masterly suggestion that a president should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, McCain may unwittingly aid Obama’s image-makers who picture him as too elderly to hold a job where there can be a crisis a minute.

McCain’s gesture comes when he is slumping in the polls due to the economic crisis. It carries the suspicion that he is avoiding a debate because he is worried that it would further harm him—although that is hardly the case. Actually the antidote for a slump in the polls is to proceed to a debater’s mode quickly—particularly if the issue is foreign policy as the debate is supposed to consider (although assuredly the economic crisis can intrude and dominate the debate under the rubric of national security).

Finally I worry that the sleepy eye of the electorate which opens for a few seconds, takes cognizance and then flutters shut, will draw an unfortunate conclusion as Obama holds center stage at the debates without McCain. That conclusion could be the decisive one thus far of the campaign—a no-show that might be as disastrous for McCain in absentia as the sweating, grey, haggard face of Richard Nixon looming throughout the first 1960 debate.

However, it is not entirely clear at this writing that this was a Hail Mary without a receiver. McCain has pulled through on risky things before. I just wonder how many Hail Marys one can throw in a single game.

1 comment:

  1. Last night on Hannity & Colmes Newt Gingrich called the proposed economic bailout "appallingly bad."

    In the past you have stated that you agree with the assessment that Gingrich is 10% Genius and 90% Crazo. In which category do you place him in this matter?