Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The timeline makes it clear that it is McCain who milked an opportunity for crass political gamesmanship

Here is the timeline of events according to both campaigns source

From the Obama campaign:

At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal. At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obama's call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details.

From the McCain campaign:

Senator Obama phoned Senator McCain at 8:30 am this morning but did not reach him. The topic of Senator Obama's call to Senator McCain was never discussed. Senator McCain was meeting with economic advisers and talking to leaders in Congress throughout the day prior to calling Senator Obama. At 2:30 pm, Senator McCain phoned Senator Obama and expressed deep concern that the plan on the table would not pass as it currently stands. He asked Senator Obama to join him in returning to Washington to lead a bipartisan effort to solve this problem.

Now, for a moment let's assume that events are exactly as the McCain campaign describes (though in fact the two statements in their details are not actually contradictory, just emphasizing different points.)

In that case I have only one question: why did Senator McCain then just moments after the phone call to Senator Obama, come out publically and issue a unilateral statement in which he said he was suspending his campaign and returning to Washington and attempting to call off the debate? That was so quick that even if Obama was taking a few minutes to ponder Senator McCain's offer and talk it over with his staff he wouldn't have had time to respond before it was all over the airwaves.

If the two of them were really working on coming together to propose a resolution to this crisis (and both campaign statements seem to suggest that that was the gist of the conversations during the day) then why did McCain clearly become the one to throw it out the window in favor of a political circus?

Was it because he is willing to throw away an opportunity to demonstrate real bipartisanship in exchange for a few moments of appearing to demonstrate it?

Was it because he wanted to make sure (even though both campaigns agree that Obama called first) that he would get credit for whatever comes of this, and not Obama?

Was it because he's not been spending adequate time preparing for the debate and was afraid of getting his rear end handed to him on a subject he is supposed to have the edge on?

Was it because if he can move the first Presidential debate to next Thursday he will be able to cancel the Vice Presidential debate so people won't have their own chance to judge how Palin, who has already been kept away from reporters, thinks on her feet? Is there something about Palin we don't know yet?

Was it because with the polls moving against him, McCain just lost his head and did something desperate?

As we learn more about what happened today and the timeline of events, it is increasingly clear that it is John McCain who has some big questions to answer.


wunelle said...

Obama has it right: a President ought to be able to do two things at once.

The two candidates are not going to forge the solution to the crisis themselves, and there is nothing more important for the American people than to get a close look at their two Presidential candidates face-to-face.

The debates should go on as scheduled.

Eli Blake said...


It's McCain trying to fool us when in fact he just hasn't prepared adequately for the debate.

But Obama will be in Mississippi Friday night. So will the commission on debates, and if the debate ends up being Obama answering a bunch of questions on foreign policy then that will just give him more exposure to show people he can handle it (since foreign policy is normally considered the are he polls the weakest in.)

Zach said...

This shows the huge differences between the two candidates.

Obama makes a phone call, and says "We need to do something."

McCain takes action, rethinks his priorities, and goes to Washington to meet with people on both sides who he thinks have the expertise to actually do something. He proposes an actual way in which both candidates can DO something about the economy.

Obama says no.

Obama says, "We need change."

McCain says, "Yes. We need change. Here's my plan. Here's what I've done in the past to create change, and not just talk about it."

Obama says "No. I am change."

Obama is not capable of doing two things at once. Obama is capable of talking about doing two things at once. And not being particularly specific about either one of them.

And as far as nothing more important than Americans getting to look at the candidates:
-Americans keeping their homes?
-Americans keeping their life savings?
-The largest point drop in the Dow Jones history?
-Bandaging or fixing a seriously flawed system which is at the root of our American life?
Really, either one of these men will be President for at most eight years. What goes on (or doesn't) with this bailout will determine the fate of money people have been investing and saving their entire lives. It could have an impact on what my 401k looks like in 40-50 years, when I retire.

It must be nice to live a life where things like that are less important than a brief debate.

It must also be nice to be in a position where worrying about the next job you're trying to get can become more of a priority than the job you have already been elected to do.

Eli Blake said...


McCain took action, but it was action that ended up being just sitting at a table and saying nothing.

As far as the value of your 401 (K), consider that it is worth a lot less now (probably) than it was even a couple of months ago, and certainly than it was a couple of years ago. And that is in the 'wild west of capitalism,' deregulated environment that McCain has fought for his whole life.

I worry that if he is elected he will lead us down the very path he has led us down in the past economically, and in that direction lies ruin.

Zach said...

This is the major problem with economic arguments. Yes, it is worth less, but there were also times under the so called "wild west" economic theories you speak of, when people's investments were doing quite well.

One of the biggest problems I have with today's Republican party is that they preach an economic system in which they obviously have no faith. Markets are cyclical, and naturally correct themselves.

And what path exactly, has Obama led us down? The path to "change?"

Don't get me wrong. I'm not terribly impressed by either candidate's handling of the situation, but I think the reality of it is that this situation can be twisted (and has been) any which way by the media and the parties involved.

Jack Hampton said...

Hey, doofus,

Did you notice that McCain's party only got less than a third to vote for the bailout yesterday? What is he blaiming Obama for?

If McCain was involved then none of his Republicans listened to him. He hasn't even been elected and hes already a lame duck.

The last thing we need is a weak and ineffective president right now, and right now McCain looks much more weak and ineffective than Obama.

Eli Blake said...

Markets are cyclical, but like anything else there is a way to channel (at least to a degree) the cycle so that in exchange for the booms not being quite as high, the busts are not quite as low. That method is called reasonable regulation.

Regulations don't exist unless someone has a reason to believe they will be useful and then convinces others that is so. That's not to say that there aren't some obsolete or unnecessarily burdensome regulations-- but we should be careful about deregulating. Deregulation should not be a goal in and of itself, but rather an option that we can choose (an option that comes with both a benefit and a price) if there is a problem that needs a solution.

Yet even today I heard a GOP candidate here in Arizona run a radio ad in which she said that she favors 'getting government out the way' of business. That is code for, 'deregulation.'

Jack: Good point. If McCain was actually manning the phones and trying to rally his party, then it looks like they will listen to him about as much as they listen to Bush anymore.

Zach said...

Wow. You can use the word doofus in a political discussion on the internet. That's about all of the response I feel the need to post to your comment.

I think that this is the fundamental difference between myself and you. It's also what I'm getting at with the issues I have with the modern Republican party. Mitigating the risks of the market by over-regulation is taking a step toward mitigating the risks of capitalism by providing state-owned housing, and universal employment. Then we're at rations. Yes, it sucks to be retiring right now. But the people who retired in the early 2000s benefited from the markets. And anybody who invested in the markets should have understood they were taking a risk.

If the markets aren't risky, why don't we just call them savings accounts?