Using the cover of the current economic crisis that he has finally come to admit, McCain has asked that the presidential debate originally scheduled for Friday September 26th be postponed to a later date. He claims that his and Obama's time would be better spent in Washington helping negotiate the bailout deal, despite the fact that neither one of them sits on the Senate Banking Committee, which is the committee that is most familiar with the institutions covered by the proposed bailout and is leading the bailout talks. This brings up many issues.
It's clear what McCain is trying to do: he is attempting to make it look like he is taking the moral high road. Having exhausted his "I am willing to lose an election to win a war" bit, he is now turning to "You, my friends, are what's most important to me right now, not a silly debate." He is trying to make it look like Obama is so power-hungry that he doesn't even want to go to Washington (with all of the "insiders" that both camps keep demeaning) to work out a bailout deal to make sure that the Wall Street banks are not responsible for their actions. In reality, he is trying to gain political points by making it seem like he is not trying to gain political points.
Personally, I do not want McCain debating about the bailout plan. He clearly does not know what he is doing. Just last week he was saying that the fundamentals of our economy were strong. His head economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, tried to say that the success of the BlackBerry was due to someone who doesn't even e-mail. McCain also tried to say that the Senate Commerce Committee, which he is a member of, oversees all portions of the nation's economy. In reality, the Commerce Committee handles mostly coastal, interstate, and transportational portions of the economy and has little, if anything, to do with Wall Street. Either he is lying about what his committee does or he simply does not know; either way, I don't want him bargaining on my behalf in Congress for this bailout.
I also find McCain's timing curious. He didn't want to stop campaigning in the months before this meltdown, he only wants to do it when he has a big debate coming up. That's like watching the leaves fall all autumn and instead of putting in a little work here and there to get the lawn cleaned up, you wait until the day your wife wants to go to her parents' house to come around to dealing with it. Besides, McCain has been in the Senate for 21 years, which includes the entire time that this subprime thing was building. Why didn't he hunker down and deal with it then? He's had plenty of time to try to prevent this the past couple of years and (assuming, as he does, that his participation in the bailout talks will be seen as the second coming for the Banking Committee and others) deal with this the past week or two. To be honest, McCain will be no godsend to these talks and his presence is hardly needed.
Obama's right when he says that McCain should join him at the debate. As he said, the people want to hear from the next president of the U.S. at the debates and two people with little economic experience missing from the bailout talks will not be the end of the world. I think that the real reason McCain wants to postpone the debate is that he is not where he wants to be in terms of his poll numbers or his debating skills and wants to work a bit on both before hitting the ring with Obama. Hell, he didn't know the Prime Minister of Spain when asked about it the other day; of course he's not ready for a debate on foreign policy. It's time McCain put on his big boy hat and put some substance behind his tough talk of Obama not being ready to lead and debate him one-on-one. Because there won't always be an American crisis to hide behind when you want to avoid something. Peace.
Photo - McCain (news.bbc.co.uk)