McCain’s big Gamble. How it could work? How it could fail?
Several years ago John McCain must have locked himself in his Senate office bathroom and looked in the mirror and said, “Look pal, you are a moderate conservative in an ultra conservative party and if you run a traditional campaign you are going to lose.
“As far as the general election is concerned, forget it. The Republican brand is damaged and the economy is failing. Again, you are going to lose, that is the historic trend. To fight the trend is to fight the wind. There is only one way you could possibly win in 2008 and that is to jumble the pieces so entirely that they are beyond all recognition. Pal, you are going to have to take chances.”
And boy, has he ever taken chances. He promoted the surge before the White House and lo and behold, after being bogged down in Iraq for years, it worked. And he has been rolling the dice ever since.
He cancelled the Republican National Convention because of a hurricane headed toward New Orleans and then reconvened. It was a huge risk. But it worked.
He picked a woman who combined his instincts for reform and in the process has practically stolen the mantra for “change in Washington” from Barack Obama. Even his worst enemies will admit that Sarah Palin worked. It is why they have all been so quick to savage her for the last two weeks.
And now? He is at it again. He is saying that as a Senator he must cancel the campaign, including Friday’s foreign policy debate, which would have been his strength but would have been overshadowed by economic events, and return to Washington and the U.S. Senate to work out a solution for the American economy.
Obama says he will show up for the debate anyway. It is high stakes drama. It is almost like Bobby Fisher not showing up for the first match with Boris Spasky, conceding the game but totally disorienting Spasky. It must all be unnerving to the Obama camp.
Here is how it will work. If the Democratic congress stalls on an economic solution this week, they will be seen as politicking by Warren Buffet and other citizens sincerely concerned about the economy. John McCain can blame it on the Democratic politicians and say that he went back to Washington and tried but Obama was more interested in becoming president than in solving an economic crisis. And he refused to use his party leadership to urge his colleagues to come up with a plan.
On the other hand, if the Democratic congress works with the Republicans and come up with a solution and the stock market soars, McCain can say that he went back and helped, he put the economy first. And while the real results of the solution will be unknown, all McCain needs is a 30 day resurgent stock market to make the point that he did something while Obama campaigned. Nice.
And if Obama changes his mind and comes back to the Senate too? It will be seen as an admission that McCain was right and selfless and was the true leader, who came to his senses first.
On the other hand…. Obama will say that McCain doesn’t want to debate because he knows he will lose. That the Republicans are in the White House and they got us into this mess in the first place. “Where is he? He is hiding in the U. S. Senate. Come out and debate me.”
And McCain will say, “I begged him to debate for months. Now the country needs both of us. Let’s do our job for the American people and then we can have as many debates as you want. This crisis won’t wait. It needs leadership now. Obama could give it. But he won’t. He says he will change Washington and will work across the aisle, well we need that now, Senator. We need that now.”
Whatever happens, this is a high wire act. These are two of the most skilled politicians the country has seen in years and it is a pity that they couldn’t both be presidents.