24 September 2008

McCain's Gambit

The Republican candidate would probably resent, or make a show of resenting, my description of his call to postpone Friday's debate with Senator Obama as a "gambit." But Senator McCain is a gambler, and has probably played out the possible outcomes in his head. In almost every scenario, if not all of them, he ends up looking more "statesmanlike" for putting the country's needs before the presidential competition. If Obama agrees, McCain looks statesmanlike. If Obama refuses and goes on alone, or (one might hope) with another candidate or two, McCain again looks statesmanlike. If Obama at all remarks about the irony of McCain calling for a postponement after accusing Obama of ducking him all summer, McCain still looks statesmanlike. After all, what matters more: solving the financial crisis or doing a debate? It is a valid question, and the only question that might knock McCain off the perch he wants to climb on is this one: Where were you yesterday? Where were you last week? And his only defense is the fact that we can ask Obama the same questions.

You might argue that it would be a proof of presidential competence that a candidate could do his duty in the Senate and debate his opponent on the same day, and Obama might be able to make such an argument if he hurries to Washington to do his duty, but honesty compels me to say that I won't regret a postponement or cancellation of the entire debate series. They are plainly biased toward the American Bipolarchy because they exclude Baldwin, Barr, McKinney, Nader and their running mates. They barely qualify as debates in the first place, being more like joint press conferences controlled by media moderators. Lincoln and Douglas would laugh at such an affair being called a debate.

On one level, McCain is most certainly ducking the debate he has long asked for. After last week's debacle on the Miami radio station, he's probably terrified of making a gaffe, even if it's as innocuous a statement (as it must have seemed to him) as "the fundamentals of our economy are sound." The financial crisis has given him an opportunity to opt out with an excuse intended to deter the charge of cowardice. The media ought to accept the excuse, on this condition. If McCain intends to contribute to resolving the crisis, then anytime he appears on the Senate floor or in a committee, the networks should go to live coverage, and should do likewise whenever Obama shows up. Depending on how things develop, we might yet have a debate in the hallowed halls that neither man has haunted much of late.

The 5:00 news shows Obama saying that this crisis is the exact time when the public should hear the candidates on the issues. That sounds like he still intends to show up on Friday night, but he'll look rather foolish if he goes alone. If McCain stands his ground, I predict that Obama will bow out himself within the next 48 hours.


crhymethinc said...

Interesting how McCain wants to "postpone" the debate and reschedule for October 2...which means they'd have to cancel the Vice Presidential debate, and that's an ass-whoopin' I just have to see. I'm pretty sure Biden will walk all over Palin and then mop up the floor with what's left.

I also find it interesting how McCain previously said the fundamentals of the economy are sound and Palin is saying if the congress doesn't sign President Douche's bill right away, the US will go into another "great depression". Sounds like more scare-politics to me. Do all Republicans really thrive on being so scared of everything all the time?

I think Sen. Obama should just go on with it and use the time wisely to lay out his plans as President. A nice long national platform upon which to dazzle the masses with his oral-tory technique. I also found Letterman's rip on McCain for cancelling out of is scheduled appearance with such short notice pretty funny and on the mark.

The idea of McCain winning the presidency
sparked a horrifically funny vision in which McCain dies early in his first term and Palin becomes president and during her first experience in having to stand up to someone like Putin, she just breaks down in tears or a screaming rage on international television, completely humiliating herself, her nation and her party. It would be awesome.


Samuel Wilson said...

I've heard talk about the vice-presidential debate possibly getting scrapped, and the funny thing is that the more rabid Republicans would probably regret it. They have a notion, I suspect, that a Palin debate is a no-lose scenario. In their minds, she wins just by uttering the standard conservative slogans, no matter what Biden says. Meanwhile, if Biden ever looks overbearing or condescending or dismissive toward Palin, they'd expect the public to feel sorry toward the brave little governor under attack by the mean old arrogant elitist know-it-all. My guess is that the fanatics would rather lose one presidential debate (thus giving Obama less TV time and exposing McCain to less risk of gaffes) and bank on Palin's critic-proof charisma instead.

My latest understanding is that McCain will show up for the debate if the bailout bill is passed by tomorrow. If that doesn't happen, I would still advise Obama to give up this time. Turning the aborted debate into an Obama campaign event plays right into Republican hands, because they'll portray it as the Democrats and the "elite media" putting their interests over the country's. The only way they can redeem the event without McCain's participation would be to invite one or more of the other candidates, and I'm not sure if Obama would care for that.

crhymethinc said...

And I"ll say again;
Anyone who supports Republican/conservative ideologies will support McCain. Anyone who supports Democratic/liberal ideologies will support Obama.
The independents/undecided will make up their own minds. The fact that they are independent leads me to believe that they're intelligent enough to see through any accusation against "mean ol' elitists picking on the poor, defenseless MILF."

I think Obama should go on with it and get himself a couple of hours of free air time, especially if he uses it to explain why this whole bailout is mainly the fault of 1) those elected officials who removed government regulations in the first place and 2) The corporate management teams that were responsible for making the bad decisions that lead to their respective businesses failing, and why such government regulation is necessary to protect the working class from ever having to bailout any failing industry.