There’s still no deal, but McCain is gonna get his debate on. And oh, by the way we’re all screwed.

John McCain has change of heart! Washington really doesn’t need him after all!

From Politico:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ended three days of suspense on Friday morning and announced that he will leave bailout negotiations in Washington and fly to Oxford, Miss., for tonight’s opening presidential debate

McCain had previously said that he would suspend his campaign—and so would not attend the debate—until an agreement was reached on the administration’s $700 billion mortgage proposal.

No such agreement has been reached, but Republicans said the standoff was hurting McCain’s campaign and that he would look terrible if he didn’t attend the nationally televised, eagerly anticipated debate, while Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was ready to go on stage.

There’s no agreement. No plan. Talks broke down so bad last night Secy. of the Treasury Henry Paulson was on one knee “half-jokingly,” begging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to not go before the press and call out the House Republicans for stalling on the bill.

As he got down on one knee to lighten the mood, Pelosi joked back, “I didn’t know you were a Catholic.”

Paulson was afraid her statement could cause the markets to go into free fall Friday.

After all that “straight talk,” McCain has found himself on a plane straight to Mississippi for a debate of destiny with Barack Obama. In this game of chicken of McCain versus Obama, the presidential debates commission and Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, it was McCain who blinked. Despite his staff (surprisingly still working despite his campaign being “suspended”) who came out to say that it was Obama who’s “grandstanding” derailed the White House talks

McCain’s campaign said the meeting “devolved into a contentious shouting match” and implied Obama was at fault — on a day when McCain said he was putting politics aside to focus on the nation’s financial problems.

But, yeah. This battle was always his to win or lose and Nancy Pelosi has (of course) declared McCain the loser.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took on the notion that John McCain has helped in the federal bailout negotiations Friday, calling the Arizona senator’s involvement “a blip.”

“He hasn’t been involved in this, and now, as there’s some discussion about putting this off, I don’t think that we can do that,” Pelosi said on “Good Morning America.”

“I think Sen. McCain’s involvement is sort of a blip.”

Pelosi called Thursday’s meeting with the president, congressional leaders and the presidential candidates “disruptive” to the negotiations “because we had to begin writing the bill.”

“We can’t take the bill to the floor until the bill is written, and we were on a path to that. It took a whole afternoon. And that time is important to us,” Pelosi said.

Describing the phone call she received from McCain shortly before he suspended his campaign, Pelosi told reporters during her weekly press conference that the Arizona senator “said that he was calling because nothing was happening, and there was no progress being made on all of this; he was calling a meeting, and would I come” …

“Well, Senator, I have good news for you,” Pelosi responded. “Quite a bit has been done. The deliberations are going forward, and we make progress every day, and I don’t see any reason for us to come to a meeting based on a premise that nothing is being done, because plenty is. We’re moving in a forward direction, and we’d like to keep on our path to get that done.”

Others agreed, saying McCain did little-to-nothing to help the process. Some even accusing him of hindering progress. But it may be that this was all just a Category 5 failure among all the rebelling GOP members.

From Think Progress:

Bailout negotiations “dissolved into a verbal brawl” at the White House yesterday, as some House Republicans, led by Eric Cantor (R-VA), said they wouldn’t back a bipartisan negotiation on the package. The House GOP faction stunned the participants at the meeting yesterday by announcing their own plan which “advocates tax cuts and relaxed regulations.”

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has said the House GOP proposal would not work. “Democratic leaders questioned McCain’s involvement in the House Republicans’ opposition to the plan.” McCain met with House GOP leaders before heading to the White House, but neither party seemed to know what they were talking about:

Boehner and McCain discussed the bailout plan, but Republican leadership aides described the conversation as somewhat surreal. Neither man was familiar with the details of the proposal being pressed by House conservatives, and up to the moment they departed for the White House yesterday afternoon, neither
had seen any description beyond news reports.

Think Progress reports that at the bipartisan meeting McCain didn’t speak “until 43 minutes into” it. That the candidate “sat silently for more than 40 minutes … then offered only a vague sense of where he stood.”

Sen. Chris Dodd said, “Instead of being a rescue plan for our economy it was a rescue plan for John McCain.” Sen. Chuck Schumer urged Bush to “respectfully tell Sen. McCain to get out of town. He’s not helping.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid added, “We had [Republican] Senator [Bob] Bennett, a high ranking official, who said these are the principles. And then, guess who came to town? And it all fell apart.”

Fellow Republicans, White House Press Secy. Dana Perino and Independent Democrat and McCain BFF Joe Lieberman all tried to talk up the work McCain did in half-ass suspending his campaign and sort of rushing to Washington on his white horse to save the day.

Lieberman said McCain “felt that yesterday the best thing he could do is to listen and then try to work with all sides to make that happen. That’s what he was doing all day yesterday.”

But some folks had to admit, the turnabout did not look good.

The action contradicted the position McCain had taken Wednesday, when he announced, “I’m directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the Commission on Presidential Debates to delay Friday night’s debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.”

McCain had also said he would suspend all campaign activities, but in reality the campaign just shifted to Washington while the work of trying to win the election went on

McCain had taken a gamble with the move, trying to appear above politics and as a leader on an issue that had overshadowed the presidential campaign and given him trouble. But Democratic rival Barack Obama had not bowed to McCain’s challenge, and instead questioned why the Republican nominee couldn’t handle two things at once — the debate and involvement in the bailout negotiations.

An Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll out Friday just before McCain’s announcement showed the public overwhelmingly wanted the candidates to debate, 60 percent to 22 percent, with the rest undecided …

By Friday morning, it appeared McCain was looking for a face-saving way to get to the debate even though a deal had not been reached. He met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, before heading to his campaign headquarters and issuing a statement that blamed others in Washington for the failure to reach an agreement …

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a McCain supporter, said the Republican made a “huge mistake” by even discussing canceling the debate.

John McCain blinked and as Sarah Palin has taught us you cannot blink. There is NO blinking allowed. But don’t fret. Not everyone thought McCain batted his eyelashes at the matter.

“It’s tempting to say that he blinked, but it’s not like he was squaring off against someone and finally gave in. If anything, he was squaring off against himself,” wrote Jed Lewison in his piece for The Huffington Post, aptly titled, “Humiliation.”

What will this change of plans mean? And what does it mean when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is calling you out saying it was a “huge mistake” that McCain even discussed skipping the debate?

“You can’t just say, ‘World, stop for a moment. I’m going to cancel everything,'” Huckabee told reporters Thursday night in Alabama before attending a benefit for the University of Mobile. He said it’s more important for voters to hear from the presidential candidates than for them to huddle with fellow senators in Washington

I actually feel a little sorry for McCain because there was not a lot he could realistically do (nor could Obama). Neither were on the commerce committee. The most they could do was try to rally the troops and vote. Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had their team in place and on message (which is shocking considering we’re talking about Democrats. These people tend to either eat their young or butcher it all).

McCain talked favorably of the plan on the trail, but returned to Capitol Hill with a House Republican mutiny on the President’s hands. George and Vice President Cheney no longer have the cache to whip them into line. The Hammer, bka Tom Delay wasn’t their to make them cry and vote the way he wanted. And former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich seems to be cheering on the mutiny.

So what was McCain to do? The recalcitrant, somewhat newish House Republicans weren’t interested in bowing to him. House Minority Leader John Boehner is accusing the White House of trying to bully them into voting for a bill they don’t believe in. So who does McCain side with? The populist Republican rebellion in the House or the White House, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke? Both come with risks.

Choose the rebels and he gets to maintain his maverick cred, but he also has to face the uncertainty of what the markets will do the longer Congress goes without passing a plan. Overnight Washington Mutual became the largest bank to collapse in US history. More banks are set to fail the longer this goes on. If the market goes into free fall he could get blamed.

But on the other hand, if Johnny Mac goes with the President and the plan the Democrats negotiated for, he could anger his base, alienate a sizable chuck of House Republicans and once again, be tied to President Bush. And it doesn’t matter that Obama is signing on to this same crazy plan. Obama has a (D) after his title. It’s McCain who gets hung by Bush every time — especially if the bailout doesn’t stop the bleeding.

And the reality for all of us, whether you’re pro- or anti-bailout — there are no good options. Do nothing, the markets will fall and more banks will fail. Do the bailout and inflation could skyrocket as we would have to devalue our currency as the Treasury prints more money to flood our market with, making the dollar ever more worthless. This could have dire consequences for food and fuel p
rices. But do nothing and the credit industry will lock up. Banks won’t loan each other money. Banks won’t loan us money. And without credit businesses would find themselves unable to meet payroll and then, God only knows.

We’re in it bad whether you only have a pound or a ton. If you’ve got a 401K or a pension, you’re in trouble. If your place of employment is having a tough year, you’re in trouble. If you’re banking some place other than Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, you’re in trouble. If you’re still paying on a mortgage, you’re in trouble.

I hope McCain and Obama will discuss the economy at length tonight. I’ve got questions. I hope they have answers.

Photos by The Associated Press and The New York Times

15 thoughts on “There’s still no deal, but McCain is gonna get his debate on. And oh, by the way we’re all screwed.

  1. The funny part is that McCain and Obama are still neck-and-neck in the polls, despite McCain having a bad two weeks and the economy tanking. The economy is supposed to be McCain’s weak area, and the public is said to trust Obama more in this subject, and yet McCain’s popularity stays the same. Obama should have a 10-point lead by now. Dems can keep their rose-tinted glasses on and hope for the best. The truth is, come November, more voters are going to cast their lot with McCain than risk it with Obama. And you know the reason, sorry to say. To paraphrase Bernard Shaw, the people deserve the government that they get. In the end, we’re all screwed, as the Snob says–without the grease though.

  2. I’m looking forward to the debates. I believe that McCain will get his hind parts handed to him and I’ll be watching when it happens. It will be a sweet symphony–I can’t WAIT! :)@draven7: I, too, am surprised that the polls are still so close. I’m waiting for them to take a leap–in favor of Obama. There have GOT to be other normal, hard-working, intelligent people out there that know how to use their analytical skills. It seems that a lot of people who are for McStain are suffering from some seriously insane hysterical blindness. Same ailment afflicted the same voters in 2000 and 2004. Damn shame, really…

  3. maglet and draven7: The numbers are close, but part of the reason why McCain pulled this stunt was because he’s down 11 points in some polls because of the last two weeks. NBC/WSJ has Obama up by two. Other polls have Barack up from 4 pts to 9. Real Clear Politics has the average at 4 pts.Considering that this race was always going to be close, these numbers are much, much better than two weeks ago when Palin was Annie Oakley and McCain was still riding high from the RNC and McCain had taken the lead.It was always going to be a close race because of Obama’s race. McCain is a pretty sloppy candidate. Any other year if the Democrat was just a halfway competent white guy it would be a cakewalk. But people are always going to give McCain second and 15th chances because of his familiar face and the fact that he’s the last white man standing. Barack, per usual for all black people, simply has to be better, faster, stronger and more perfect. Good enough won’t be good enough to win.But the fact that many of his leads are holding in the states Dems normally win and the swing states are still close or better those are a good signs. It’s no guarantee, but things aren’t that bad yet.

  4. i’m nervous as hell about the debates. i love obama, really i do, but he’s not a good debater. all the people who say that obama is going to fillet mccain are going to be REAL disappointed. my fear is that a bad, or just typical, obama debate performance will make everyone forget what a tool mccain is.

  5. thedondiva: That’s an understandable concern. Neither Obama or McCain are good debaters. Obama stutters, is often slow to get his words out and rambles. But McCain also stutters, destroys his words and sometimes just makes shit up.So for me this debate is about who is going to screw up the least. Barack has to deal with these high expectations. McCain only has to meet a low standard. That will really be the thing that hurts Barack. People are expecting him to blow McCain away, but he’s an intellectual who likes to ruminate and McCain loves to bark out buzz words and make gross misrepresentations. All we can hope is that Barack will fact check the shit out of him. That’s Barack’s best chance at dominating the debate. Also, they have such different styles. I don’t think much could throw Obama off message, but McCain will do it with a touch, so … there’s nothing we can do. We can’t wave a wand and suddenly give Barack Bill Clinton’s filibustering skills.

  6. Friends, I don't think the current closeness of the contest is simply due to race. Race may give McCain 4% of the vote he otherwise would not have, but there are other issues that I think may account for larger percentages than that.There are widespread concerns about Obama's seeming youth & inexperience, which are amplified both by the fact that his manner & appearance make him seem younger than he is (Bill Clinton was younger, in '92, than Obama is today, but seemed older), and by the fact that McCain is fairly good at playing white-haired elder. I think these concerns are largely misplaced, that Obama has more than enough seasoning for the job. But I think a lot of people judge more superficially than I do.There is also Obama's somewhat professorial manner; it doesn't bother me, but a similar manner was a recognized part of the reason why Adlai Stevenson never made it to the White House.And then there's the loyalty trope, that always seems to take control of the flag-and-football crowd whenever there's anything like a war on. McC is on the favored side of that one, as a genuine Viet Nam martyr and an ally of the regime that by-God-invented the war against terror, while O is on the disadvantaged side, being anti-Iraq war, saddled with lingering associations with the likes of Jeremiah Wright and, horrors, a Democrat to boot.I believe these disadvantages, combined, would have been swiftly fatal to any “halfway competent white guy”. It took fewer disadvantages than that to sink the halfway competent John Kerry four years ago. It was because Obama is (a) charismatic, (b) a very good general (very good), (c) ruthlessly unhindered by principle in political maneuvering, and (d) backed by heavy money, that he rose far, far above them to lick his Democratic rivals and nab the nomination. He then floundered in ways that underscored all the worries about his youth and inexperience for about six weeks, seriously hurting his chances. But now factor (e), the economy, has come into play, and I think his strength there as a knowledgeable Democrat will be amplified greatly by factors (a) thru (d).Frankly, it seems to me that factors (a) and (b) alone are enough to counterbalance the racism in play. Factors (c) and (d) are how elections are won, and if he uses them well in the final five weeks, he’s home free. Factor (e) is a nightmare for us all, but for him it may also be something approaching a bonus home run.Just my opinion.

  7. Maglet, you gotta believe, girl. I hope you’re right. But I’ve been down this road too many times. The Dems never pull it out. Clinton, a southern guy, was the only Dem to reach the White House in the last 40 years. Get a reality check people! Do you think America is ready for Obama? I appreciate your analysis, Danielle, and Marshall, you nailed a number of valid points, but it still doesn’t matter. It’s not coming down to the issues. These debates won’t matter because each person is going to do a competent job, unless somebody pulls a James Stockdale and starts talking to himself on stage, then we’ve got a problem. Even if Obama or McCain slips up and misstates facts like Ford did with Poland, it’s really won’t register with voters. Americans don’t like smartypants people anymore, so no one will care. The simplest answer is usually the best one.

  8. BTW, I made a little boo boo. Clinton was the second Dem president in the last 40 years. It’s important to not let the facts in the way of a good story, so I left it out.

  9. “Draven7”, I don’t know how many times you’ve been down this road. But me, I’m approaching 58, I studied politics at Harvard in my youth, I worked in the Colorado governor’s office, I worked in environmental politics for decades, and I do think I’ve developed some perspective.No, it’s mostly not coming down to the issues in this election, but I think the very fact that it’s not is yet another factor in Obama’s favor. It means Obama’s charisma has room for play. That room for play is the reason why he’s had access to all that heavy money. This is all new and unprecedented.”The Dems never pull it out” is the perspective of someone who’s judging only by the recent past — not by 1990, when Clinton came from nowhere to break the Ronald Reagan spell; not by the Sixties and Seventies, though those tropes are still powerful; not by the Forties, though you’d think this week that the soup lines are just about to form. And not by the present, when the Dems have come from behind to dominate Congress and many state governments, and to raise fifty million dollars a month for an obscure black candidate for president. Those old decades, and their myths, still have power to affect how people see. They’re exerting that power right now. The present, I think, is up for grabs.In 1957, “it’s always going to be in the future like it’s been in the recent past” was the philosophy of people who didn’t believe Martin Luther King, Jr. would ever get anywhere. Young as I was, I saw that cynicism, and I saw it disproved. In 1968, it was the philosophy of people who thought the Viet Nam war could never be stopped. In 1978, it was the philosophy of those who thought liberalism could never be stopped. In 1992, it was the philosophy of Republicans who thought anti-government activism could never be stopped. Today, it’s the philosophy of someone who bought an SUV last year and thinks the solution to the energy crisis is “drill, baby, drill”.The U.S. does change. It even has profound sea-changes from time to time, and I’ve seen a couple of those sea-changes too: the early 1960s, when the country shook off a paranoid dream and awoke to the courage of hope; the late 1970s, when it decided it could have the nineteenth century (“Morning in America”) back. You know, when I was driving home from work through down-at-the-heels Council Bluffs on the cold, damp night of the Iowa primary this past winter, and I saw the young white college students out in the streets waving signs and jumping up and down for Obama, I knew I was looking at another of those sea-changes. Nothing like that was conceivable in the Eighties or Nineties.The sea-change doesn’t mean Obama is a shoo-in. It does mean the playing field is tilting in a new, important way. Because of that new tilt, I am convinced Obama really does have a better-than-even chance at winning. And he’s right: the reason he has that chance, the reason the playing field has changed, is that the election is not about him, but about you.Sorry. This was a longer speech than I intended!

  10. Marshall, I truly admire your zeal and optimistism. For someone who’s 10 years older than me, it’s refreshing to know that I don’t have to become jaded and cynical with the passage of time. You know, I could sort of hear the “Battle Hymn of The Republic” playing in the background as I read your speech. Seriously, it was well-written and I hope you’re right about Obama chances. Perhaps only time will tell if this is actually a sea-change or just an anomaly. Twenty-something years ago the Dems nominated a woman for the presidential ticket and it wasn’t repeated until last month. Credit must be paid to Obama. He’s done things that no one has ever done before, and I honestly never thought he would get this far. When it comes to racial matters, I’m as open-minded as they come. Unfortunately, I’m also a realist who knows there is probably still too much prejudice in our electorate for Obama to overcome at this stage. I hope you prove me wrong. When Martin Luther King came along, it was his time. The civil right era had started before him, and then it needed a voice to bring the message across. He was put there for that purpose. Ronald Reagan ushered in a new conservative period because Barry Goldwater laid the seeds for his rise more than a decade earlier. It was Reagan’s time too. Clinton came upon the political landscape because he represented the new South and the babyboomer generation, and subsequently it was his time to lead. We both realize the gains of our society has made regarding race. You seem to think we’ve reached a point that we’re ready for a black president. I, on the other hand, don’t think we’re at the tipping point just yet. Obama has definitely laid the groundwork for an eventual ethnic president, just as Hillary has done for women. While I think Obama is ready to lead, his resume is somewhat thin and that gives his critics something to jump on him about. He might have to wait until he gets more political experience and grows a few more gray hairs before some people will trust him. Charisma only goes so far. This period is historic and groundbreaking. Sea-change? The jury is still out on that. We’ll see in November.

  11. I’m amused, friend, that you thought you could hear “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” behind my words. I’m actually a registered independent with deep skepticism about the power of partisan politics to do more good than harm. I regard the American system as hugely corrupting.I’m a pacifist with strong objections to Obama’s emphasis on stepping up the war in Afghanistan, killing Obama, etc. As someone with some background in economics, I regard the $700 billion bail-out, which Obama supports, as a tomfool scheme that will hurt the middle class and poor. As a religious person, I regard all kinds of nationalism, including Obama’s, as idolatry.I vote, and work on issues like environmental reform, not because I’m a patriot, but because I believe it’s my obligation as a good neighbor — to you, to Danielle, and to everyone else on this planet.So don’t count me as an Obama partisan, please. I’m not. In what I’ve posted here, I’ve merely been gauging the trends and telling you honestly what I see.

  12. Marshall, please stay where you are, I’m checking the Secret Service hotline number. I think they should be informed about people writing threats to presidential candidates in blogs. Ouch! That’s the mother of all Freudian slip-ups. Okay, I get your point. Actually, my thinking is a lot like yours, except I don’t harbor any secret ill-will against Obama. I also don’t like the idea of stepping up the war in Afganistan, and I see it as more political posturing. Hillary did the same thing by authorizing the war in Iraq and look what happened to her. I hope Obama doesn’t repeat her mistakes. It’s politically expedient to beat the war drums. Had I voted according to my spiritual beliefs, Dennis Kucinich would have been my choice. He didn’t have a snowball’s chance, so I picked Obama. We’ll find out soon if Obama is the one. The truth always comes out one way or another.

  13. Interesting that we have so much in common, “Draven7”! I’ll have to tell the SS, er, the Secret Service about it when they come —A pleasure trading notes with you, in any case!

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