Still Waiting For “The Prestige” At the End of McCain’s Smoke and Mirrors Third Act

Above: A scene from the 2006 Christopher Nolan directed film “The Prestige.” Below: John McCain give us the two-thumb salute.

How many card tricks and fluffy white, moose-hunting-bunnies can John McCain pull out of his hat before Nov. 4?

Seriously. I want to know because now I am riveted.

Johnny Mac hasn’t been to work since early April. Since 2007, he has been at his day job less than Sen. Tim Johnson who had a stroke late 2006. But now McCain’s ready to get serious about the economy that he only acknowledged was in free fall six days ago.

This David Copperfield-by-the-way-of-prop-comic-Carrot Top act has me on the edge of my seat. What possibly will he think of next to delay the damage?

When McCain was down in the dumps because people were all dazzled by Barack Obama’s ability to show up and just be Barack Obama and get people to pledge their fidelity to him as well as donate money, blood, their first born, whatever it takes, to get him elected, McCain made a mad dash for the first hot ultra conservative number with a gubernatorial reign. Presto-change-O, re-O strange-O! And suddenly McCain is talking about how he’s the real change agent and he, and his new magic assistant, are the “original mavericks” who are going to “fix Washington.”

The same Washington he’s been in for the last 26 years. How do you “abracadabra” more than two-and-a-half-decades away?

When did this go from a presidential race to the plot of the film and novel “The Prestige?”

An epic, intense tale of two obsessed, hyper competitive to the point of trying to kill each other magicians, “The Prestige” is actually a favorite of mine because of its heavy dose of darkness, illusion and “real” magic. Sometimes this whole election feels like an elaborate trick where I’m anxiously waiting to see the third act and be shocked, so dazzled by the result that I’m left wondering what could happen next.

The film explains all the things you need to pull off a good magic trick —

Act One: Introduce something ordinary
Act Two: Make it do something extraordinary
Act Three: Surprise, surprise you had no idea what I just did, ergo “The Prestige

The star magic trick of the whole film, The Transported Man, is an illusion that makes it appear that a man has been transported from one place on stage to another. One magician who much more committed to the craft develops it first and the second becomes obsessed with co-opting it, improving upon it and claiming it as their own.

I’ve often wondered if Barack is doing his own version of The Transported Man and McCain, in a fit of pique, has pilfered a bootleg version of it designed by Apple and that somewhere there is a horrible beyond belief surprise ending to McCain’s method.

Because if so — great. Under the plot of that book and film, Obama, the more committed politician, would win the election … after he was executed for murder. (If you don’t get it you’ll just have to sit through the three-hours of Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman trying to murder each other.) But I don’t think there’s any real magic going on at McCain’s end. This is more like, “Razzle dazzle, look over there! Don’t look at how inadequate I am in every way!

Gov. Sarah Palin’s surprise selection as McCain’s vice presidential pick was the world’s greatest fake-out. It got everyone off-topic. But McCain couldn’t pull another Palin. We’d seen that trick already. That’s why he had to unveil the “I love this country so much I’m willing to lose an election to go solve a problem I know absolutely nothing about.”

If McCain wanted to “keep it real,” he should have just said he needed to go figure out where he stood on the bailout then decide whether he was going to help Dubya and Cheney bust out the kneepads and get to begging to get the bill passed. Because it’s the Republicans in Congress who are truly balking at the Wall Street bailout. The Democrats are likely to get everything they wanted because Bush, the Fed Chairman and the Secy. of the Treasury are so desperate to get this through both houses by any means necessary. But the Republicans are fighting with themselves in a showdown between the Bushies and the “The Bushies ruined my conservatism” crowd. I suppose you have to make a stand for the philosophy you purport to believe in at some point. If you wanted to stop socialism, this is your chance, Boehner!

In reality, that’s what Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid meant when they said it was time for McCain to man up and do something. They wanted him to make a stand on the issue and tell his party to get on board lest the whole nation get hit by “The Great Depression 2: Now More Depressing Than Ever!” bus.

But to act like you can’t walk over and “Go pretty, pretty please! I’m your defacto leader! Help a brother out here! You’re killing me!” then turn around and debate Barack Obama for 90 minutes. That logic is absurd. But I get why he did it anyway. He needed a new trick and this was it.

Bravo.

Now what?

Seriously. Now what? Because Obam
a, ever-so-slyly, inferred that McCain wasn’t a man of his word since they’d talked about making some joint, bipartisan announcement and McCain made the mad dash to the cameras to pull an Effie White and declare he was not going to the debate on Friday. But the commission who handles the debates said the debate was still on. And Obama pointed out that presidents have to juggle a lot of things. If you can’t go work on the financial crisis and go to a 90 minute debate in Mississippi what can you multitask? And you walk and chew gum? McCain is already going to the Clinton Global Initiative this week and what does that have to do with the financial crisis?

The big meeting George invited both McCain and Obama to happens Thursday. The debate is Friday. But Johnny Mac claims he’s put his foot down and he’s giving us the leadership we deserve through avoidence. If there’s no deal, he’s not going.

If this is a game of chicken between McCain, the commission and Obama I call bullshit. Someone’s blinking and it’s the man who has the most to lose by either A) not being able to get his party to vote for the bailout and B) looking like he’s scared of a debate.

McCain better do some fancy tap dancing to get those recalcitrant Republicans on board because Obama’s either debating him or an empty chair. It’s six weeks until Judgment Day. You can claim to suspend your campaign, but there’s no such thing as campaign suspension this late in the game. This whole stunt is about the game. I don’t doubt that either candidate cares about the economy collapsing. That happening would bode terribly for everyone involved. But to pretend like he can put the House Republicans in a box and saw them in half and we’ll all just be sparkled by it — well, I’m sorry. I’m going to need more than that.

I was surprised by the Palininator and I was surprised by McCain suddenly remembering he’s a senator. But where’s the trick in an empty chair? Who will look worse? The man debating the chair or the man not there? Maybe that’s the trick? Maybe our reaction is the surprise this time around.

11 thoughts on “Still Waiting For “The Prestige” At the End of McCain’s Smoke and Mirrors Third Act

  1. wow. when i saw this announcement earlier in the day, i almost passed out. not only is jmac attempting to shield his running mate from the press and any hard hitting questions, but now he is attempting to stop and stall his failing campaign by saying that he needs to concentrate on the economy and the financial crisis???!!! what the hell???? didn’t he JUST say last week that everything was great and going lovely? how do you stop a campaign 45 days out? my word. they never stop do they? so what is barack supposed to do? answer the questions without jmac there? will someone else sit in and pretend to be jmac? will we just count this a an obama victory because of forfeit? aye yi yi!oh, election day is gonna be a bag full of tricks so folks- VOTE EARLY!

  2. Danielle, you besmirching a decent movie (“The Prestige”) by comparing it to McCain’s campaign trickery. Thanks for the video clip since I forgot what most of it was all about. If it weren’t for David Bowie playing inventor Nikola Tesla, whom I reading a book about at the time, I wouldn’t have remembered the movie. I think people underestimate old McCain’s extraordinary fortune in life. His privileged upbringing in family of high-ranking naval officers allowed him to enter the US Naval Academy, even though he didn’t have the grades to get there. He was something of a klutz as a pilot. He crashed several planes and started the biggest fire since WW II abroad a carrier, the USS Forrestal (my personal belief), that killed over a hundred people due to his carelessness, and still he got out of this and other fine messes. While many pilots never got shot down in Vietnam, McCain’s place was and he served 5 years as a POW. He could have gotten an early release, but he know that wouldn’t fly if he wanted a political career afterwards, so stuck it out and ended up signing a confession to North Vietamese for his war crimes. Okay, I’ll forgive him for that. I don’t like torture either. But then he came back home and started living it up as a swinger and dumped his ex for this rich debutante, who was smoking hot at the time. And then he used her connections to run for office in Arizona and has been riding on incumbency and his war record ever since. That biography doesn’t look too good to me. Why are Americans so enthralled by his life? Obama is the real Horatio Alger story.

  3. Franklin D. Roosevelt was lame too and wound up being president for three terms. Kennedy had Addison disease and was kept alive by a bunch of drugs. Although I don’t support him one tiny bit, McCain is a tough old bird and it’s going to tough for Obama to win in November. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that McCain becomes president. My passport came last week, so I’m buying my airline ticket for early next year and becoming an expatriate for awhile, at least until things cool down.

  4. draven7: I didn’t mean physically lame. I meant lame in the sarcastic sense, re: McCain is corny to me. I don’t think of Kennedy or FDR as corny and I don’t think McCain is “lame” in a physical impairment way. I meant it in an uncool sense.Now if you want to argue that he’s cool or hip or with the times, be my guest.

  5. I know, Danielle, I’m only half-way joking myself. Some people get mad at me because they don’t know when I’m being serious. I’m benignly sarcastic by nature. Let’s just hope McCain doesn’t become a lame duck in the White House. That would be bad.

  6. draven7: See? Now I’m all disappointed. I thought you were going to come back with some cool points for Johnny Mac. Like he has a really hot pop-n-lock routine and Lil’ Wayne is going to lend him so vocorder action for the debates. You know? To youth it up a little. Perhaps a remix of The Game and Lil Wayne’s “My Life,” only he could make the song about Wall Street investment banks needing this bailout.And he’d call the song “My Banks” and Wayne would sing: And they sell the stocks when they drop. Yes, they sell the stocks when they drop. Each time one drops the investment stops. The investment stops as the housing bubble pops all over my banks, my banks. They keep bankrupting my banks, my banks. What’s going on with my banks, my banks? What the hell, the whole country’s in the tank! See. That’s what I was hoping for, man. But you let me down! đŸ˜‰

  7. Danielle, you know I ain’t in your league, girlfriend. I’m amateur city compared to you. Next to you, I’m conflakes without the milk. This is your world and I’m just squirrel trying to get a nut, as the other O.J. once said. No, Danielle, I don’t have any game left. You’re Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps rolled into one. I’m the Washington Generals and you’re the Harlem Globetrotters and the score is 99 to 12, in your favor. I am not worthy…I could never be your worthy opponent. You’re Steinbeck and I’m just an unpublished hack poet. I can’t even spell anymore. No, seriously, I’ll get my groove back and think of something about McCain tomorrow. He’s an easy target. Peace always

  8. For this relief much thanks, Danielle. That was weird with all the magician movies coming out that season. I saw the Illusionist too, but I don’t remember the other one. In fact, I don’t recall what the Illusionist was all about, although I always like Edward Norton, who was in it.

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