McCain Chickens Out

25 Sep

At the University of Mississippi on Friday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) are scheduled to engage in their first presidential debate. But that plan was thrown into doubt yesterday when McCain abruptly announced “that he would temporarily stop campaigning” in order to “return to Washington to help forge an agreement on a proposed $700 billion bailout of financial institutions before Congress.” Obama, who will meet at the White House today with McCain, President Bush, and congressional leaders, responded to McCain’s call for him to join him in suspending his campaign by arguing the debate should go on as planned because “it is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.” The McCain campaign, however, is insisting that “if there’s no deal before the debate, McCain is staying in Washington, period.” Both the University of Mississippi and the Commission on Presidential Debates plan to “move forward as though the debate is still going to happen.” But Friday’s debate might not be the only thing derailed by McCain’s surprise decision to interject himself into the bailout negotiations. As the New York Times notes today, “McCain’s actions not only cast doubt on whether the highly anticipated debate would come off, but also thrust an unpredictable new element into the negotiations for the bailout.”

I think this photo says it well…

Bottom line: This isn’t presidential behavior. It’s a desperate, reckless move that actually threatens to make it harder to resolve this crisis. And of course, presidents have to be able to handle lots of important issues at once—they can’t panic and take their eyes off of one urgent priority when another one pops up.

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