26 September 2008

Why Isn't Senator McCain Involved in the Talks?

Didn't John McCain go to Capitol Hill to help out with this bailout plan? The one that was nearly finalized before he touched down in DC Thursday? The one that fell apart after he touched down in DC?

Apparently, one of the reasons why the bailout plan imploded today--why House Republicans walked away from it--is "because [House Republicans] were chafing at what they saw as an attempt by Democrats to jam through an agreement on the bailout early Thursday and deny Mr. McCain an opportunity to participate in the agreement." This according to a top aid to Rep. Boehner. But how much did Senator McCain participate in today's talks? Not much. Not much at all, despite his promise to "return to Washington to help forge an agreement on a proposed $700 billion bailout of financial institutions before Congress" (Times).

Of the White House meeting, "[p]articipants said Mr. Obama peppered Mr. Paulson with questions, while Mr. McCain said little" (Times). It seems he was an observer rather than an active player. Apparently, Senator McCain helped to suggest an "alternate plan" that included tax breaks and deregulation for businesses, but that seems to be it.

Additionally, it turns out that, although Senator McCain did meet with some "House and Senate Republicans in the Capitol Thursday, before the White House session [. . .] He did not attend meetings where the bailout legislation was being hashed out" (AP). It's puzzling because he insisted Wednesday that he had to get to Washington to oversee this crisis, but he either barely engages in discussions or he avoids the discussions altogether.

Moreover, later in the day, "when negotiations hastily resumed in the Capitol, House Republicans refused to send a representative authorized to bargain" (AP). If Senator McCain went to DC in order to "take charge" of resolving the crisis, perhaps it would have been helpful for him to get someone involved to represent the GOP's perspective.

He's not issued a word to the public on his own actual position, just general statements about "flaws," the need for bipartisan agreement, and his confidence that a deal will be reached. It's beginning to look like he didn't have any plans whatsoever for "helping to forge an agreement." The campaign suspension seems to have been a split-second decision, a shake of the dice: he jumped upon his brave steed to rescue the country and. . .nothing.

The problem is that, although it looks good to stand and announce that you're taking things in hand, and you're putting country first, it looks pretty bad when you participate in nothing more than photo ops and prompt a risky partisan fight on Capitol Hill (and this threatens to keep him from Friday's debate?).

The American people aren't stupid. If Senator McCain doesn't show us that he's actually a part of this process after the drama of yesterday's press conference, he can kiss this election goodbye.

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