McCain's Debate Bailout
By Eric Mader
So John McCain isn't confident about the debate. He insists he has no time for it because his presence is needed in the Senate while the bailout is being negotiated. Is McCain's participation really that important to the negotiations? It is hard to believe so.
The senator's ploy is transparent--a bit too transparent. And so I predict that this time the trick will backfire. Because people aren't that stupid. Americans know that public debate is one of the fundamental bases of democracy. You don't simply cancel something so important to our political process.
The logic of McCain's move doesn't hold up in the least. At present McCain's most important function in the Republican Party, by far, is as nominee in the coming presidential election. If he really cared about the economy, he would definitely not be heading back to Washington just now. Rather, as a committed Republican, he'd be insuring the legacy of his party's policies by showing up for the debate with Barack Obama. Obama, after all, will be in the White House for four years if he wins. That's four years following what by any measure is a very serious financial crisis. Certainly McCain would agree, given his economic thinking, that a win by his oppenent would be a disaster for the country: it would set back the clock on so much the Republicans had "accomplished"--so much that makes America strong both politically and economically. Doesn't he see the need to show voters how and why this is so?
Perhaps McCain doesn't really believe in the soundness of his own policies. After all, if he believed in the logic of his own positions, he'd be there debating Obama in order to convince the voters of this logic. Because if there is any logic at all, it is one that can be impressed on those who hear the debates. It is the voters who will make the choice in November. Instead he comes up with this lame excuse about how he's needed in Washington.
One senses that the candidate knows his arguments won't hold up well if the American people hear them in debate format. He backs away from the fight for fear that, under scrutiny, his party's position will be seen for what it is.
McCain's move is not democratic by any measure. It shows a fear that a few more percentage points of the public, if they were to see him more clearly, would turn against him. The senator, in short, is afraid to face the music. He's calculating that if he keeps from answering the tough questions the bankruptcy of his policy positions won't be known.
It is a shabby and irresponsible trick. Just as his choice of Sarah Palin is a shabby and irresponsible ploy for getting out the evangelical vote. In all of this John McCain is showing that he favors reckless gambles when faced with a challenge. This is not what we need in a leader.
[As I post this the news is coming through that the debate is still on. It doesn't change the facts: McCain had tried to cancel it for reasons that are pretty transparent.]
The best analysis I've read of all this is here:
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