As many of you already know, John McCain has attempted to cancel/postpone both his first presidential debate with Barack Obama as well as Sarah “Putin Talks To Reporters More Than Me” Palin’s vice-presidential debate with Joe Biden. McCain’s justification for the move, issued during a brief press conference earlier today, was that the United States needed to pass “bipartisan” legislation as soon as possible and his presence was required to end the debates over the economic stimulus package proposed by Fed Chairman Paulson. Obama immediately responded in a televised statement, “Part of the president’s job is to deal with more than one thing at once. In my mind it’s more important than ever.” I could not agree more.
There is no doubt that McCain’s move to halt his campaign temporarily is a purely political move to restore his plummeting approval ratings on his economic experience, with a consensus coming from both Republican and Democratic strategists. What they disagree on is whether or not this was a smart political move. In a frenzy of activity on political websites, Republican pundits have declared that McCain’s move is tantamount to “leadership”, while Democrats have countered that this isn’t “surprising at all.” Liberal strategists have said that the cancellation attempt is simply another piece in McCain’s attempt to bypass the media as well as the issues. Despite the show of “bipartisanism” by McCain, his intended visit to Washington has been received by Capitol Hill with almost bipartisan derision. Most lawmakers responded that they simply did not need this already extremely intense debate injected with presidential politics.
After reviewing a wide variety of interpretations about McCain’s decision, I personally am very disappointed. I mean, I understand the whole “maverick” thing and the need to “shake things up” on a campaign that is clearly falling behind in the pools. But, really? The first presidential debate? At what point does Mr. McCain intend on proving his policy arguments? If I was still a Republican – if I hadn’t come out of the whole stick-it-to-my-liberal-parents ordeal about four years ago – I would be even more angered. It’s one thing to have a meaningless back and forth in the media about policy proposals; I get it, it’s politics. But you still have to at least try to debate about it at some point. Between Palin and McCain dodging anyone with so much as a pencil and pad of paper, I cannot imagine that the eighteen-year-old-Republican-me would not flip out. So, what will voters think?
The decision to halt his campaign will either be received in one of two ways:
(1) The debate is cancelled and McCain is viewed as bipartisan and gains economic respect in the polls.
(2) The debate is not cancelled and McCain looks like a coward, who tried to run to Washington to hide.
I’m sure that among strong conservatives, it won’t matter much either way. They will race to declare John’s senatorial experience and independent leadership. I’m just as sure that among strong liberals, there will be a resounding consensus that Obama has continued to remain professional and has integrity intact. Both of these groups will live and die by their candidates. But what about the independent voters who have not yet made up their minds? According to the CBS/Washington Post poll that was released today, about 2 in 10 voters are still undecided, with most of those same voters declaring they “don’t know enough” to make a decision.
With the economy in a backslide and Palin “The Economist” saying that the US is on the verge of a “Depression”, independents cannot be viewing McCain’s declaration positively. The economy has taken a very strong position as the most important issue to Americans and McCain admittedly looks weak on the whole debacle. His almost asinine flip-flopping, from “The fundamentals of the economy are strong” to “We are in an unprecedented crisis” in a mere ten days is simply too short of a time period for independent voters not to notice.
McCain is starting to remind me a lot of Barry Bonds. If all of the steroids trials have taught me anything about the American people and the media, there is one thing that Americans dislike and it is cowardice. You cannot simply avoid talking about it – they will come after you like wolves. Barry learned that the hard way. As small town voters in swing states sit down tonight for dinner with their friends and families, perhaps today’s political turmoil will come up. And when it does, I am confident that most people will see McCain’s postponement for what it is: a desperate move by a desperate man.
The American people will find you John; ask Barry Bonds. You can run, but you can’t hide.