Chris Bowers on the Mad Scientists in the McCain Campaign
Am I Stupid?

John McCain and the Financial Crisis

John McCain's campaign said, on September 24:

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...

Now McCain's staff says that he wasn't meeting with his economic advisers but, instead, with a handful of political advisers:

Robert Draper on the dishonest, dishonorable, and incompetent John McCain:

John McCain - The Making (and Remaking and Remaking) of the Candidate: On the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 24, John McCain convened a meeting in his suite at the Hilton hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Among the handful of campaign officials in attendance were McCain’s chief campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt, and his other two top advisers: Rick Davis, the campaign manager; and Mark Salter, McCain’s longtime speechwriter. The senator’s ears were already throbbing with bad news from economic advisers and from House Republican leaders who had told him that only a small handful in their ranks were willing to support the $700 billion bailout of the banking industry proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. The meeting was to focus on how McCain should respond to the crisis — but also, as one participant later told me, “to try to see this as a big-picture, leadership thing.”.... Schmidt pushed for going all in: suspending the campaign, recommending that the first debate be postponed, parachuting into Washington and forging a legislative solution to the financial crisis for which McCain could then claim credit. Exactly how McCain could convincingly play a sober bipartisan problem-solver after spending the previous few weeks garbed as a populist truth teller was anything but clear. But Schmidt and others convinced McCain that it was worth the gamble....

Schmidt evidently saw the financial crisis as a “true character” moment that would advance his candidate’s narrative. But the story line did not go as scripted. “This has to be solved by Monday,” Schmidt told reporters that Wednesday afternoon in late September, just after McCain concluded his lengthy meeting with his advisers and subsequently announced his decision to suspend his campaign and go to Washington. Belying a crisis situation, however, McCain didn’t leave New York immediately. He spent Thursday morning at an event for the Clinton Global Initiative, the nonprofit foundation run by former President Bill Clinton. As McCain headed for Washington later that morning, he was sufficiently concerned about the situation that Schmidt felt compelled to reassure him. “Remember what President Clinton told you,” Schmidt said, referring to advice Clinton had dispensed that morning: “If you do the right thing, it might be painful for a few days. But in the long run it will work out in your favor.”

After arriving on Capitol Hill nearly 24 hours after his announcement, McCain huddled with three of his closest political allies: fellow senators Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyl. Later that day at a White House meeting convened by Bush and also attended by Congressional leaders of both parties as well as both candidates, McCain said almost nothing, even when House Republicans declared that they were not yet willing to sign onto the administration’s $700 billion proposal. Despite the fact that the deal maker had produced no deal, McCain announced the next day that his campaign would resume — “optimistic that there has been significant progress towards a bipartisan agreement,” as a campaign statement put it — and traveled to Mississippi that Friday afternoon to debate Obama. On Sunday morning, Schmidt went on “Meet the Press” to insist that his boss’s foray had been crucial in bringing “all of the parties to the table,” with the result that “there appears to be a framework completed.” The next day — Monday, Sept. 29, the day by which Schmidt had earlier warned the crisis “has to be solved” — the House Republicans played the key role in defeating the bailout legislation.

Scene by scene, McCain failed to deliver the performance that had been promised. Of course, this was no mere movie. America was in crisis...

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