Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,o, I see that John McCain is calling for a delay in Friday’s presidential debate, and is suspending his campaign to deal with the economic crisis. Is this a shrewd political move, or the beginning of the end of the McCain campaign?
— Steve in Granite Bay

Hey Steve,

The financial spine of the United States and the global economy is on the verge of buckling. Clearly, only John McCain and Barack Obama’s presence in Washington can save us.

Sure, let’s postpone the debate. Heck, let’s postpone the election. Lord knows I pushed hard for a delay in the 1970 gubernatorial election, when it was clear that Dutch Reagan was going to beat me. But people didn’t go for it.

I would like to announce, here and now, that I am suspending this column until the economic crisis has been resolved. Or until the chuckleheads irritate me enough to drive me to pick up my pen again.

That didn’t take long…

For too long, too many political leaders have had a sort of bunker mentality when it comes to crisis management. When times are tough, it’s not the time to take an 85-day break, and cut some cockamamie, last-minute budget plan that smells worse than a field-dressed moose. This is not the time to retreat, and broker some backroom deal. If anything, it’s time to have more debate, not less, about the problems facing our economy, our state and our nation.

OK, now back to reality. The truth is this $700 billion bailout scheme is filled with more perils than a Christmas fruitcake. I didn’t notice either Barack Obama or John McCain rushing to the front of the class to discuss the details of Henry Paulson’s little proposal. The reality is that if there were no presidential election going on, Obama and McCain would be two of the last people you would call to bring resolution to the financial crisis. I don’t see any good reason why that should change now.

From a pure political perspective, it’s another Hail Mary pass that has quickly become the hallmark of the McCain campaign. Just like the Sarah Palin pick, this has undoubtedly knocked the Obama campaign off balance, and has taken him out of the news cycle, just as he was beginning to gain momentum from drafting off the news of the tanking economy.

As a political triage maneuver, it may have been a master stroke from Team McCain. Sure, it feels like a stunt, and hey, sometimes, stunts work. But let’s see how it plays. Remember when New Coke seemed like a good idea? Sometimes, things just don’t stand the test of time. What the McCain campaign has proven masterful at doing is continually changing the subject, and preventing Obama from picking up momentum that he would otherwise be gaining simply by default. The entire financial world as we know it is collapsing around us on the Republican watch, and McCain’s running statistically even? Harry Houdini ain’t got nothing on Steve Schmidt.
But Lord knows we all would have been better off if our state budget makers had suspended whatever the hell they were doing last week in order to focus on the state’s economy.  But I suppose that would be too much to ask.

Want to see more stories like this? Sign up for The Roundup, the free daily newsletter about California politics from the editors of Capitol Weekly. Stay up to date on the news you need to know.

Sign up below, then look for a confirmation email in your inbox.


Support for Capitol Weekly is Provided by: