John McCain Blinks

So, let’s get this straight.  In the forty-eight hours leading up to John McCain announcing the “suspension” of his campaign, the only thing that had changed was his polling numbers.  The needle gauging the health of the economy hadn’t moved dramatically in either direction, no, the only needle moving was the public’s opinion of who should take over as the next President of the United States.

Thus the “suspension” was announced.  It really wasn’t a suspension, though; the only two things McCain actually did was take down ads for a day and try his hardest to postpone the debate.  And on this last point, McCain failed.

Now, the McCain campaign is signaling that McCain will make it to the debate tonight.  But I think it’s interesting.  Just as nothing happened before the so-called “suspension” intended to free McCain up to save the economy, what happened in the 48 hours prior to announcing he would be returning to the campaign, specifically meeting with his opponent in the debate tonight?

Most notably, three things.  The first is that Washington Mutual failed, the single largest bank failure in America’s history.  The second thing is the deal that congress was so close to finalizing collapsed almost the moment McCain injected presidential politics into the fray.  In other words, if I see John McCain making a bold statement that he is going to fix something ever again, I’m running very far away.

It was pointless.  He accomplished none of the things that he claimed he was going to accomplish before hitting the campaign trail again, and in many ways he made the situation worse.  So what was the third thing that happened over the course of 48 hours prior to McCain relenting and agreeing to attend the debate?

Obama didn’t get suckered in.  Pay careful attention, political strategists; this is part of how you win elections.  A more traditional, conventional Democratic presidential campaign would have gotten sucked into this circus like a black hole.  Obama stood his ground, stayed strong on the economy, and made perhaps the one case that a lot of pundits didn’t even see when this whole thing began; a President has to be able to multitask.

It was Obama’s willingness to not get sucked in that turned McCain’s gambit into a late night circuit joke, and it was his insistence that the debate go on that pushed McCain back into things.  After all, with Obama insisting on there being a townhall if McCain didn’t show, McCain knew he would be staring at an hour and a half Obama infomercial if he didn’t get back on the trail.

And that’s where Obama got McCain to blink.  If McCain was really serious about fixing the economy, he would have taken the hit.  He would have let Obama have his townhall, stayed in Washington, and weathered whatever political storm came his way as a result.  But I guess John McCain isn’t willing to lose an election to fix the economy.

I guess the only other thing that happened between the announcement to “suspend” and the announcement to recommence is that someone in the McCain campaign realized that the gimmick wasn’t working.

(edited by DrGail)

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