Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Man's Got Balls

The instincts of a fighter pilot, the ability to maneuver and attack at once, are showing up in John McCain. This morning the news was grim. The economic crisis, as expected, has given Barack Obama a sudden nine-point lead in national polls. By afternoon McCain had a plan in action. It was, in fact, provided for him on a silver platter by Obama. Senator Obama called Senator McCain this morning when it looked like the White House bail out plan was in trouble, and suggested they put aside partisan politics and issue a joint press release supporting the plan. This was a nice bit of leadership on Obama's part, and McCain apparently thought so to. He recognized immediately that it strengthened Obama's perceived leadership on the economy, so he seized the issue as his own. He issued a statement almost as soona s they got off the phone. He proposed that they stop campaigning, postpone Friday's debate, and hold a joint meeting on how to fix the credit crisis. While close observers might note that this only reinforces the perception that McCain's answer to any economic issue is to form a commission to study it, he knows that most Americans are not close observers. By issuing his press release first, almost immediately, he has stolen Obama's thunder. Now McCain is trying to look like a leader on economic issues, and if Obama insists on continuing to campaign and going ahead with the debate, he will look like he is putting partisan politics ahead of what is best for the country. McCain works best from an underdog position, and he is in one right now. He is taking this crisis, which clearly highlights Mr. Obama's strengths, and trying to turn it to his advantage. And it will probably work.

The worst thing Obama can do right now is stop campaigning. He is up nine points in the polls. The country is focused on his big strength, the economy. Between McCain's admission that he doesn't understand the economy, his connections to Phil Graham and the Keating Five, his wealth, his professed predilection toward de-regulation, his culpability in getting us into this mess, and his ties to President Bush and his big-business cronies, McCain is a ship taking on water fast. In the thirteenth round, when your opponent is bleeding and you've got him against the ropes, you don't take a break for four days to sort out the economy. It is exactly what McCain needs to re-group and get back on his feet. But what can Obama do? If he contineus his attacks he will look like a partisan hack while handing the economy issue over to McCain. If he backs off he gives McCain a break and hands the economy issue over to him. He's dammed if he does and dammed if he doesn't.

Me, I hope he fights on.



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