26 September, 2008

A narrative of the last few days...

Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke propose a bailout package giving them sweeping authority to use $700 billion in any way they want.

Barack Obama calls John McCain, asking him to release a joint statement in support of a revised bailout package, keeping the same basic structure of the Paulson plan, but with strong oversight, among other changes.

John McCain, without telling Obama beforehand, announces that he will return to Washington to solve the bailout and will not debate until a deal is reached. Conveniently, he does a few interviews, makes a few fundraising stops, and gives a campaign speech before returning to Washington. (Even more conveniently, he suggests canning the veep debate in which Sarah Palin is almost guaranteed to make an ass of herself.)

Democrats stay up all night hammering out a deal-- it is broadly agreed to by all parties involved including Paulson, the President, and the House and Senate Republicans. One Republican says this was the most productive session of Congress he's ever been in, exactly because partisan politics played no role.

McCain arrives in Washington just in time to attend a meeting at the White House with Bush, Paulson, Obama, and the House and Senate leadership. Obama asks many questions, McCain says nothing and does not express support for any plan. John Boehner, House Republican leader, informs Pelosi that his caucus cannot support the bailout deal--they have an alternative that is completely different. No deal is reached.

What happened here? John McCain, in an act of either utter cynicism or utter stupidity, decided to inject presidential politics into a process that was working extremely well, while claiming he was setting politics aside. The Democrats, keen on preventing McCain from receiving any credit for a deal, kept the negotiators in session all night and arrived at a tentative deal by the next morning. But House Republicans did not want McCain cut out of the process and post hoc decided to withhold their votes from a deal that all had previously agreed to.

This puts Pelosi in a tight spot. The Democrats could pass the bailout bill through the House, but without Republican votes, the Democrats will take all the blame if the bailout is a failure. On the other hand, not passing anything could mean financial disaster. And giving in to the Republican's new plan is simply not an option. It's a classic Prisoner's Dilemma.

What could have happened here? McCain could have gone into the White House meeting and stated his unequivocal support for the bailout deal reached Thursday morning. But he didn't...say anything. It's important to mention that this revised deal is basically exactly what McCain wants on the merits as he has said many times over the past week. And McCain could have gotten that. But John McCain does not actually care about what he's said over the past week. He does not actually think about what's best for the country. John McCain has no honor. He does not put country first. He is blind to anything except his own ambition.


Cassady said...

Finally some fervor out of the normally silky-tongued Spencer!

I think it's important to note that both Harry Reid and Schumer called their candidates asking them to STAY AWAY from this whole process, for exactly the reason Spence pointed out.

McCain managed to completely destroy things by getting his party to snub something they had been in erstwhile support of.

And really, who does Mc-Bane-of-my-existence think he is? In the end, he's still just a Senator. While his candidacy does lend him more than a bit of pull with his Repub-cronies, what does he expect to single-handedly do to help this legislation?

Can you say "political posturing?"

Cassady said...

Look on the bright side: when this whole thing really becomes transparent to the public (fingers crossed) it could show exactly how pandering and worthless McCain is--to say nothing of petty, disingenuous, pedantic, short-sighted, boorish, arrogant, disdainful, and out of touch.

That felt good.

At any rate, this could really be a nail in the coffin for him. I'm sure there are a ton of Republicans, already wary of this guy, just waiting for some big excuse to jump ship. (fingers crossed)