Let’s assume, for a moment, that there might actually be some substantive value to the presidential campaign being suspended so that John McCain and Barack Obama can lock themselves in a room until the financial crisis has been solved. How might it have been handled if McCain weren’t being entirely political?
Here’s an answer: McCain could have approached Obama quietly. If Obama agreed, they could make a joint announcement. If not, then McCain could go public and grab whatever political advantage was to be had.
So what actually happened? As best as we can tell, McCain announced publicly and unilaterally that he was going to suspend his campaign, blindsiding Obama — after
spurning agreeing to Obama’s private request to issue a joint statement earlier today. Obama can’t go along, because he’d look weak and subservient. McCain knows that, which is why he made Obama an offer he has to refuse.
It’s a big gamble. McCain might end up looking ridiculous. His hope is that Obama will look crassly political instead.
On the merits, the whole thing strikes me as absurd. The White House and Congress are working on a bailout package that everyone involved seems to think will get done within days.
Friday’s scheduled presidential debate is not a sporting event that should be canceled on the grounds of misplaced priorities. It’s serious business, the business of democracy. Let’s get on with it.