McCain’s lost moment

So we just passed a bail-out package that’s marginally better than the one voted down on Monday. But it’s still a bail-out package.

When McCain “suspended” his campaign last week and said he was “going back to Washington” to straighten out this thing, I thought, Uh oh. If he goes back there and truly kicks ass, and sells what Bush can’t, it’ll show he’s a real leader and blow Obama out of the water.

I thought, What McCain should do is something like Colonel Travis did at the Alamo (or at least in the movies about it). He should have drawn a line in the sand, and challenged his party to do what Bush couldn’t make them do. He should have stood on the steps of the Capitol, in front of the TV cameras and the eyes of an expectant nation, and said “Now is the time to put country first. This is how it is done. Our president and his top advisors, and the leaders of both parties, say this bill needs to be signed. It’s not a perfect bill, but it’s the best we can do got to save our financial system in a brief window of opportunity. I want everybody’s who’s with me to line up behind me, so we can tell the country with one voice that we’re ready to do the right thing.”

But instead he did approximately nothing.

Was there a better time to show leadership than with a real crisis and a lame duck president and his own election on the line? And when, as some Republicans claim, Pelosi was trying to sandbag the bill? Can’t think of one.

Disclaimer: These are a few thoughts of one blogger with a low-grade fever. Redraw your own conclusions.

8 comments

  1. Mark D’s avatar

    Doc,

    I am surprised at your credulousness regarding the “straight talker”. Reading between the lines on McCain’s record reveals that John McCain has lately been more about show – smoke and mirrors – rather than real accomplishment. Many of us who have been following McCain closely were perhaps as concerned as you were when he suspended his campaign – but for a different reason: based on his record, we had no expectation that he might actually do anything presidential or useful, but rather, we feared that he might successfully convey the impression of doing so to undecided voters!

    A combination of press analysis and interviews of “just plain folks” on the right confirms that this something close to this is what happened:

    1. The media has reported widely – as you noted above – that McCain did approximately nothing.

    2. Scads of “low information voters” happily told their interviewers how pleased they were with the commanding and decisive role that the “Maverick” took in the bailout process – first, selflessly suspending his campaign; then flying to Washington; and finally, corralling all those ornery, uncooperative Republican senators and congressman and reading them the riot act!

    The ultimate cynical question is, did he help or hurt his campaign? I think it’s clear that he further solidified opinions of him on the right and left – where it makes no difference – but I can’t speak for the puzzlingly undecided folks in the middle. Hopefully the majority of them are equipped with first-rate bullshit detectors.

  2. Doc Searls’s avatar

    You’re right, Mark.

    I was also thinking about what Reagan would have done. He would have gone on TV and taken his case to the American people with the manner and conviction of a true leader. Which Reagan was. Even if you disagreed with him, you had to give the guy that much.

    McCain doesn’t have it. We don’t know if Obama has it, but now we know McCain doesn’t.

    By the way, this post comes straight out of a conversation with a McCain sympathizer who thinks Obama is a lightweight gasbag who will surely raise taxes and spending no matter what he says. This person did not want McCain to provide a convincing reason to vote for Obama. But that’s exactly what McCain did in this case. He became the devil we know.

  3. I call bullshit’s avatar

    Here is a balanced view: fuck the cocksucker ass-wipe Republicans – they are the dipshit big business coddlers asleep at the wheel who allowed the fucking mess we see the last 2 weeks. You call it – unregulated toxic lending bringing down the big financial institutions, Mid-East quagmire killing the sons/daughters of poor people, environmental laws strip-mined, out of control deficit dooming my kids future, stripping basic services for disabled – fuck those shithead bastards! Fuck those butt-fuckers and the mule they rode in on! All those fucktard assholes have done for the past 8 years is squat down and take a big steaming dump of shit right on the head of the little guy.

  4. Doc Searls’s avatar

    It’s easy to toss all the blame in one direction. Fact is, deregulation of the financial markets began under Carter and continued through the Clinton as well as the Reagan and Bush I & II administrations. The media rolled when Bush II launched an X $trillion war in Iraq, and the whole country ran up credit card bills while buying overpriced houses with 2easy negative equity mortgages. I could go on, but would it make any difference?

  5. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    Economists aren’t sure that the failout was the right thing:
    http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2008/10/the-consensus-v.html

    I note that none of the major causes was any kind of deregulation. You’ve got the CRA, Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac, the Fed lowering interest rates, you have reduced capital requirements for investment banks, and CDOs. These are all politicial policy errors, not removal of oversight. Oops. Can we ask the government to fix what they broke? Is that at all wise?

    I still say that we’ve done pretty well with freedom of religion. Let’s try freedom of markets: Congress shall pass no law restricting trade between individuals or nations. But why do we need to wait until all sorts of regulations fail to finally try freedom?

  6. gabriel’s avatar

    I agree with your point.McCain did worse than nothing

  7. GeoB’s avatar

    Doc, in honor of your call to rational insight:

    As they say “..those that can’t remember history are doomed to repeat it.”

    That’s a good warning for developing democracies, third-world nations.

    New democracies tend only to survive for a limited period anyway.

    But what difference does that change make…

    Who cares if democracy thrives – somewhere, around the world ?

    Who cares if citizens overlook history only to repeat it to their own demise?

    Who cares if their statesmen succumb to merely personal gain and politics?

    Who cares if politicians use political correctness to spin truth, gain status?

    Who cares if leaders take their country into shambles and citizens into panic?

    Who cares if in panic, citizens cast their fate into the hands of those traitors?

    Who cares if that happens in developing democracies or third-world nations?

    Certainly not those in developed countries, who don’t recognize it – at home?

    Certainly not those who aren’t clear on what has changed, or still might!

    CHANGE doesn’t have to be beneficial
    - but benefits can come from REFORM.

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