More on the McCain Gambit

September 25, 2008

Ben Smith’s latest suggests that McCain may be in D.C. on a mission to torpedo the bailout negotiations:

John McCain’s campaign put out an extraordinary memo just now, denouncing a proposal that, by all accounts, was supported by all parties but the House Republicans, promising to return tomorrow, and casting the debate in serious doubt.

There is zero detail about what he’d like in a bailout package. He doesn’t like what the administration produced or the revisions by Dodd and Frank, but it’s not clear if he wants something along the same general lines, or if he’s pushing for a drastically different approach like that favored by the House Republicans.

The best case scenario is that he’s simply creating the impression that the negotiations are in jeapordy so he can pretend to rescue them tomorrow morning. Alternatively, he might try to keep things up in the air long enough to avoid tomorrrow night’s debate. Then he can push hard for his proposal to bump the VP debate, which is likely to be a fiasco.

The most frightening possibility, but the one that makes the most sense to me, is that he plans to blow up the negotiations altogether, forcing the Democrats to either give up entirely, or – more likely – to pass a bailout in a party-line vote. He could then spend the rest of the campaign attacking Obama for playing politics in a crisis.

I’m not exactly predicting this – I’d like to think my first explanation is the most likely, mostly because this would be completely sociopathic. But, though it would probably destroy his campaign, the potential upside is huge; this is exactly the sort of high-risk tactic McCain’s camp is going to be using.

Whatever his strategy, I’ll repeat what I said yesterday: all of this relies very heavily on how the media chooses to present it – McCain couldn’t have picked a worse time to declare war on them.

UPDATE 11:22PM: I forgot to mention: the one sentence in the press release which discusses what McCain does want from the bailout is worth reading:

John McCain simply urged that for any proposal to enjoy the confidence of the American people, stressing that all sides would have to cooperate and build a bipartisan consensus for a solution that protects taxpayers.

Sarah Palin is apparently copy editing press releases now.

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One Response to “More on the McCain Gambit”


  1. […] hasn’t done anything irrational, however, if his plan was the one I suggested last night: he went to D.C. for the express purpose of blowing up the bailout negotiations, forcing the […]


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