Meanwhile on the audacity trail . . .

The US election and the biggest financial swindle of all time (OK – I exaggerate, TARP is not a swindle, it’s a really really inefficient and unfair way of doing something sensible, but perhaps as we speak the Congress are making it better) have got me in one of those times when rather than switch off as I do to most politics, I’m as tuned in as I can bear.

Listening to early morning news I heard about McCain’s ‘audacious’ move to throw the switch to bipartisanship. I thought it was a clever curve ball (as us people familiar with US punditry say!) to throw Obama, but then about half a hour later I heard Obama. Obama sounded calmer, more for real than McCain, but he seemed to suggest that he was the person who initiated the whole thing.

If this story is correct that is indeed the case.

Early Wednesday, at 8:30am EST, Obama called McCain to propose that the two candidates attempt to take a leadership role in responding to the economic crisis. Concerned that no consensus was emerging from negotiations between Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and leaders in Congress, Obama suggested that he and his Republican rival outline shared goals for any bailout of troubled banks and financial-services institutions.

Specifically, Obama proposed that the two author a joint statement of “shared principles and conditions” for a bailout.

McCain responded around 2:30pm EST Wednesday to express his willingness to work with Obama.

Then, at 3pm EST, without alerting Obama or the Democrat’s campaign to his intentions, McCain called a press conference to announce that he would stop campaigning in order to return to Washington to focus on the “historic” crisis facing the U.S. economy.

I presume this is the truth, but perhaps it’s not the whole truth. Can someone fill me in. Because if it is the whole truth there is something seriously weird going on. Because if it is, McCain’s cynicism is so cheap that he can’t even be bothered turning away a stunt which can be exposed for the empty posturing it was. The facts – if these are the facts – indicate in a way that is at the elementary level of a TV soap that McCain was unashamed to pretend it was his idea when it was Obama’s and that he’s sufficiently cheap and stupid that he didn’t care that the facts would out within about half an hour and transparently demonstrate his hypocrisy.

To be clear, I am not saying that McCain’s general operating procedure in a campaign shouldn’t be to try to take advantage anyway he can. What’s striking, shocking – nay, no less than entirely gasting of the flabber – here is that he thought that he could get away with this – that after about 30 minutes of good press, there’d be a period of doubt after which ‘the story’ became how McCain’s ‘bipartisanship’ consists of trying to misrepresent the facts and to take advantage of the other side’s attempts at bipartisanship.

But – and again I’m expecting someone to tell me that these really are not the facts – it gets weirder still.Obama doesn’t even clarify the issues, just puts his side of things almost as if he’s trying to cover up for McCain’s cheap misprepresentations. So far so good I was thinking, this will work out fine. Obama won’t even have butter melting in his mouth and Joe Biden or some other attack dog will come out and really get stuck into McCain – “McCain’s mendacity, is ‘the issue’ now yada yada yada yoo” (I added the ‘yoo’ at the end – he wouldn’t have said the ‘yoo’ at the end because the attack dog would be being very pompous in a matey kind of way – but I digress).

But none of this happens. Thus when the 7.30 Report does some yada yada yada with the subject carefully chosen to ensure that the entire interview is pretty much all bullshit – it’s on ‘Will George Bush’s speech make a difference’ – a subject about which one can only engage in pub-talk – Michael Fullilove, who seemed to take to the genre like a duck to water, tells us that you’ve got to hand it to McCain, he’s been so audacious in going the bipartisan schtick. Nary a word is mentioned about the fact that this is approximately the reverse of what happened, and of what McCain did.

What the hell is going on?

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Michael Kalecki
Michael Kalecki
15 years ago

I Think McCain though this could be the way to get back big Mo.

He has been floundering. Even Rove has been criticising his ads as inaccurate and most of the media have been getting restless about the fact Palin is a protected species and so has very limited media interviews.

My guess is he thought few people would go beyond the headline or soundbite

15 years ago

Even stranger, at the last minute McCain cancelled an appearance on David Letterman’s TV show on the grounds that he had to get to Washington to do something about the financial crisis, but at the very time he was supposed to be on Letterman’s show, he was getting made up to appear on Katie Couric’s:

Mr. Letterman said Mr. McCain had said the economy was about to crater which necessitated that he get to Washington right away. Mr. Letterman then suggested that McCain should not be suspending his campaign at all and that he could have sent in the second-string quarterback, his vice presidential running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, to fill in for him. You dont quit, Mr. Letterman said.

After suggesting that Ms. Palin should be prepared to step up and be ready, because the poor guy is getting a little older, Mr. Letterman reconsidered and said of Ms. Palins readiness, Dont get me started.

Even after Mr. Letterman brought out Keith Olbermann, the MSNBC host and vituperative Republican critic as the substitute guest for Mr. McCain, he continued to assail Mr. McCain for the decision to cancel the appearance. His critique reached a high point when he learned that at the very moment Mr. McCain was supposed to be on the couch next to him being interviewed, the senator was at the CBS News center three blocks away in Manhattan, getting ready to be interviewed by the CBS News anchor, Katie Couric.

Mr. Letterman ordered his director to put on a live feed from that location, which showed Mr. McCain getting made up to go on with Ms. Couric. He doesnt seem to be racing to the airport, Mr. Letterman observed.

After listening to some questions from Ms. Couric, Mr. Letterman said, Hey, John, Ive got a question: You need a lift to the airport?

This man wants to be president of the United States?

Ingolf Eide
15 years ago

US politics left the real world quite some time ago, I fear, Nicholas. One can only hope it will return at some point without burning up on reentry.

Loved this comment from Josh Marshall about this latest bit of patriotic schtick from McCain:

He’s desperate and reckless. This is what it appears to be: political stunt dressed up as vainglorious self-sacrifice. In other words, typical John McCain.

15 years ago

I have to say the most interesting thing about that article was the reference to studies apparently demonstrating that those with a political conservative bent were *more* likely to believe an untrue statement if they were actually told it was untrue.

Presuming however that those of a conservative bent are highly unlikely to vote for Obama anyway, what would be interesting is the degree to which pointing out the untruth of various McCain’s campaign claims is likely to motivate conservative voters to vote for him. Sadly, it wouldn’t surprise me if a constant barrage of Obama ads pointing out the untruths in McCain ads actually mobilised the conservative base to rally around their man, and boosted the likelihood of many conservatives turning out to vote accordingly. But of course if such ads had a bigger impact on liberals, independents and moderates than they did on conservatives (something that strikes me as unlikely), they would still be worth running.