As of 8 AM today there is still no word whether John McCain will show up for tonight’s debate. However, in most media (I don’t count Faux News) there appears to be consensus that McCain’s skipping the debate would be a boneheaded move. Even Republicans are saying that, unless there are critical negotiations going on in the White House at the exact time the debate is scheduled, McCain had better haul his ass to Mississippi.
And it’s unlikely the Dems, who would have to agree to hold those critical negotiations, would give McCain an excuse not to be in Mississippi.
This morning a number of news stories say that McCain was a near non-participant in yesterday’s White House
photo op meeting. Adam Nagourney and Elisabeth Bumiller write for the New York Times,
At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting.
That was the “giving McCain the benefit of the doubt” version of the story. David Kurtz provides a little more detail:
During the late afternoon meeting at the White House (a meeting which was McCain’s idea), McCain sat silently at the table until nearly the end, according to a Hill source who was briefed on the meeting. At that point, I’m told, McCain vaguely brought up the proposal being pushed by the Republican Study Committee, the group of House conservatives that is bucking the GOP leadership. But McCain didn’t offer any specifics and didn’t necessarily advocate for the plan, according to the Hill source.
Responding to McCain, Treasury Secretary Paulson said that the RSC proposal was unworkable, my source says, at which point McCain didn’t really advocate for it or state his own position. The meeting adjourned soon after, amid confusion over where negotiations could go next.
There are other news stories that give different accounts of who introduced the RSC proposal. Marc Ambinder says other Republicans in the meeting brought it up. David Rogers of The Politico says Barack Obama brought it up first to squeeze the Republicans.
Whatever the details, all accounts agree on one point — McCain sat through most of the meeting silently, like a bump on a log, and made no substantive contribution.
In a column in which he reveals something that perhaps he didn’t intend, David Brooks writes about McCain in the past tense. The McCain of the past as described by Brooks is in no way the same man who showed up at yesterday’s White House meeting. Either Brooks’s views of past McCain were highly skewed (which is highly possible), or McCain is deteriorating before our eyes.
This morning Americans — the ones paying attention, anyway — are hearing the news that negotiations on a bailout deal fell apart after McCain got to Washington. Oh, and guess what? Here’s the biggest bank failure in U.S. history. Way to go!
It’s not clear to me what will happen if Obama shows up tonight and McCain doesn’t. However, I say again that unless some critical meetings or negotiations are taking place in Washington tonight, most Americans will assume McCain just plain ducked out. Not very heroic of him.
Also: A bold, fresh piece of pathology — listen to rightie “intelligentsia” eating its own. Revealing, but not in the way Allahpundit thinks it is.