The Most Incompetent Campaign Ever

You know McCain is toast when Kathryn Jean Lopez thinks Obama sounds “reasonable” and McCain “gimmicky”:

Obama is on TV right now.

Some of this is a lot of nonsense, but if I’m just getting home from work and I only pay casual attention to these debates, Obama sounds reasonable and less gimmicky than McCain.

He says that there is no reason why we can’t do more than one thing at once. Obama says it is “more important than ever” to have a debate.

Obama says he called McCain this morning and announced that he wanted to do a no-politics-as-usual joint statement about addressing the market mess. He says that McCain wanted to insist on meeting with the president and congressional leaders too. Obama says Obama said: Let’s do the statement, go from there. Obama says he thought McCain was thinking about the joint statement, working on with staff, when McCain went on TV. So now Obama is on TV.

Obama says he’s told Pelosi, Reid, and Paulson that “if I can be helpful, I am prepared to be [in dc] anytime” but I don’t want to infuse presidential politics on the hill and goes on about how presidents need to be able to multitask.

Obama may win this campaign moment yet. If McCain protests, he looks petty.

Of course, K-Lo ends her brief moment of mental clarity with this other post:

Many readers relay that they’d like McCain to just offer Palin step in for him.

Dear, dear, dear. That is the last thing McCain wants to do.

Josh Marshall thinks McCain used Obama’s suggestion that they work together on a joint statement about the bail-out as an excuse to cancel the debates because of his plummeting poll numbers. A TPM reader sees a more nakedly political motive:

Look at what appears to have happened. Obama reached out to McCain privately to agree to a shared set of bailout principles. McCain went off the handle again and tried to use the crisis as a way to call off the debates.

Late Update: One longtime reader says it’s worse than that:

Obama reached out privately, because once this discussion went public it was bound to be politicized. Instead of taking his call and hearing what he had to say, McCain spent the next six hours huddling with his aides, searching for a way of turning the situation to his political advantage. His response – a unilateral, public call for cooperation – was designed to retake the initiative and steal Obama’s thunder. But it also ends any hope of actual cooperation. Obama reached out, hoping that McCain would see something more important at stake than his own personal ambition. Alas, it would appear that there is nothing more important to McCain.

About that multitasking thing:

Today is September 24. On this day in 1864, Abraham Lincoln presided over a country at war with itself and a party split to its roots over the question of how to plan for the nation’s reconstruction—to such an extent that on this day, Lincoln reluctantly accepted the resignation of Montgomery Blair, his Postmaster General and a valued advisor, owing to disputes over plans for Reconstruction.

Yet the campaign for the presidency was “now being prosecuted with the utmost vigor,” as one could read in the New York Times.

On this day in 1932, with the nation mired in the Great Depression, you could read Will Rogers in the New York Times saying “This is a year that will bring out lots of votes, for the voter has nothing to do but vote; his 1932 employment consists entirely of voting.” Managing the economic crisis was assuredly a full time job.

Yet Herbert Hoover prepared to give a large speech in Iowa and Franklin Roosevelt had just given what became a famous address to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.

On this day in 1944, the US prepared one of the most ambitious postwar occupations in history for Germany, while American forces in the Pacific prepared an assault on the Philippines on the way to Japan.

Yet President Roosevelt had just officially launched his campaign for a fourth term, while Thomas Dewey took his turn speaking in San Francisco, challenging Roosevelt’s supremacy.

All these examples suggest the contest for the presidency has been an indispensable part of American democracy, enduring even in the greatest of crises. But somehow, on this day in 2008, John McCain announced the suspension of his campaign for the presidency and asked for an extension in preparing for this week’s presidential debate.

Sorry, no extensions, no exceptions.

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