Thursday, September 25, 2008

McCain The Chessmaster Part II

McCain's motivations to suspend campaigning, tentatively to suspend the debate, and to return to Washington for the duration of the fiscal crisis get clarified. And McCain gets the seal of approval for his acts from former President Bill Clinton - who even manages to work in a jab and a right cross to Obama. Lastly, Fox News notes the potential downsides for McCain if he is not able to rally Republicans behind a plan.

I wrote below, in the post McCain the Chessmaster, that I suspected that McCain's decision to suspend campaigning and return to Washington was a mix of both cold political calculus and "country first." It turns out I was too cynical. We learn today that McCain was responding to a direct plea from Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson to return to Washington and take leadership of the Republicans. This from Bob Schieffer at CBS News:

I am told, Maggie, that the way McCain got involved in this in the first place, the Treasury Secretary was briefing Republicans in the House yesterday, the Republican conference, asked how many were ready to support the bailout plan. Only four of them held up their hands. Paulson then called, according to my sources, Senator Lindsey Graham, who is very close to John McCain, and told him: you’ve got to get the people in the McCain campaign, you’ve got to convince John McCain to give these Republicans some political cover. If you don’t do that, this whole bailout plan is going to fail. So that’s how, McCain, apparently, became involved.

He has gotten what he wants, he’s going to have this meeting, kind of a summit today with the president and Barack Obama. I’m told that the leaders of both parties are getting close to having some kind of a bill. The question, though, is whether rank-and-file Republicans, especially, are going to vote for this.

As Hot Air notes, after McCain explained this to Obama and offered to have him attend also, this puts Obama's initial decision not to take part in the Washington debates and not to suspend campaigning into a much blacker light. McCain answered the 3 A.M. phone call; Obama routed it to his answering machine.

And Bill Clinton could not be more partisan in this - partisan on the side of McCain. In one minute, Clinton:

1. Says McCain is acting in good faith in making his decisions

2. As to the possible cancelling of the Friday debate, opines that this is not a cold political move because McCain wanted more debates.

3. Recasts the fiscal crisis as a national security issue - and when people think national security, McCain has over a twenty point advantage on Obama.

This is really amazing:

(H/T Hot Air)

Lastly, Fox News points out, as I did in the post below, that McCain is taking significant risk in coming back to Washington because Republicans are in revolt over this bailout. If McCain fails to rally Republicans around the rescue operation, he will fail. If he rallys them around the op but does so without doing anything to placate conservatives, all the good will he has built up since February may well evaporate. I will say again, McCain needs to get something in the plan about a two year suspension of the capital gains taxes to get our economy to recover. That would be a win for McCain among the conservative base. It would also force Democrats hand. Such a reprieve on capital gains taxes could be sold as a necessary measure to protect people's life savings and 401k's during what is going to be a rough patch even with the bailout.

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