All indications are that John McCain’s debate-skipping stunt will backfire on him, especially after the roasting he got on Letterman last night. Lots of folks in the Homeland do watch Letterman. I suspect the late-night comedians have at least as big an impact on public opinion as the “pundits.” Maybe bigger.
One of Letterman’s points — a valid one — is that even if McCain were to be called off the campaign trail by a crisis, there is no reason his running mate, who is not in Congress, couldn’t keep up the campaigning. Except, well, apparently she can’t.
CNN reports that the McCain campaign wants to “postpone” the vice presidential debate and use that time for a first presidential debate. I believe either Letterman or Olbermann predicted last night that’s what they would do. The McCain campaign seems almost desperate to keep Palin in a media burqa, which is peculiar given that she’s the only reason McCain’s campaign has been competitive since the conventions.
I don’t know how accurate this is, but a poll conducted last night by SurveyUSA showed overwhelming opposition to canceling tomorrow night’s debate. I don’t think McCain is foolin’ anybody, except those predisposed to be fooled.
DAVID LETTERMAN THINKS HIS COMEDY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE UNITES STATES FINANCIAL CRISIS â€¦ What an ego! … The LEFT just does not get it. Itâ€™s not a matter that McCain canceled the Letterman appearance and instead was doing an interview with Katie Couric as Comments from the Left explains. The fact of the matter is that going on a LATE NIGHT COMEDY SHOW WAS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR THE TIMES!
So, what, ten days into THE UNITES STATES FINANCIAL CRISIS McCain and Bush suddenly decide it’s serious? And the “LEFT” doesn’t get it?
What’s a Republican presidential nominee to do?
If you’re named John McCain, the answer became apparent yesterday afternoon — make the solution to the economic crisis all about you. Suspend your campaign. Pull out of tomorrow’s debate — a trivial exercise merely allowing Americans to judge the two candidates side by side. Change the terms of the nation’s economic discussion from the course we should take, and the defects of the laissez-faire model that got us here, to the indispensability of John McCain, leader of leaders.
One gets the impression that McCain wants us to see him as the white knight riding to Washington to rescue the fair damsel in the tower. But unless he pulls off something extraordinary in the next couple of days, like maybe talking Sweden into buying all those subprime mortgages, I doubt this will work. If McCain’s presence in Washington has no dramatic impact on the crisis, ducking the debate makes McCain look weak, not strong.
On the other hand, if Congress suddenly comes to an agreement in the next couple of days, McCain probably will get credit for this and remain competitive in the campaign. Since most of the opposition is coming from Republicans, I suppose this could happen. We’ll see.
Michael Tomasky says the real reason McCain is riding into Washington is to turn attention away from the connection between his campaign manager, Rick Davis, and Freddie Mac. That’s probably part of it. The fact is, McCain was having a terrible week and needed to turn attention away from a lot of things.
[Update: Tomasky’s speculation is supported by the latest news about the Davis-Freddie Mac connection.]
For example, there was George Will’s highly publicized criticism that McCain lacks the temperament to be president. “Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama,” Will said. Ouch. I bet that punched McCain right in the ego. Rookie, huh? I’ll show him!
The Anonymous Liberal speculates that the real purpose of the stunt was Palin damage control.
I’m serious. The more I look at what happened today, the more I think it was all an elaborate attempt to stem the fallout from the truly disastrous interview Sarah Palin taped this morning with Katie Couric. In that interview, Palin did two things that hurt the McCain campaign and, but for McCain’s late afternoon shenanigans, would have garnered much more attention. First, buying into the premise of one of Couric’s questions, she all but stated that if no bailout legislation is passed, we’ll be headed into the next Great Depression. Even if true, that’s not a very smart thing for a politician to say and, importantly, it all but foreclosed any possibility of McCain voting against the bailout.
The other thing that hurt McCain is revealed in this part of the interview:
COURIC: But he’s been in Congress for 26 years. He’s been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.
PALIN: He’s also known as the maverick, though. Taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he’s been talking about â€” the need to reform government.
COURIC: I’m just going to ask you one more time, not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation?
PALIN: I’ll try to find you some, and I’ll bring them to you.
Palin is turning into a joke. Even Alaskans may be having second thoughts about her.