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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What’s McCain’s Endgame Here?

posted by on September 24 at 13:36 PM

Assuming realpolitik and rationality underly McCain’s big move today (and not panicked reactivity or plain old unthinking impulsiveness), I wonder if this is what McCain sees as his desired progression of events:

1) McCain suspends his campaign to focus on the economy, calls on Obama to do same, calls for postponing of the Friday debate.

2) Obama says no, that he can focus on both the economy and a foreign policy debate, and that McCain should be able to as well.

3) McCain says he’s more committed to the people’s business than show-business, says if Obama really wanted to debate so badly he could have accepted all of McCain’s town hall meeting overtures over the last few months, and says he’s not going to the Florida debate because he’s putting “country first.”

4) Obama stands his ground. The debate doesn’t happen because McCain’s not there. Only two presidential debates are left. Therefore McCain has one less chance to blow it.

Sounds a little odd as a type itówouldn’t an “underdog” want more opportunities to share a stage with the big guy, not fewer? But nothing about this campaign has been normal so far…

RSS icon Comments


Do you even think he's thinking that far ahead? The Sarah Palin pick does not seem like the act of a guy who thinks in the long term.

Posted by tsm | September 24, 2008 1:37 PM

It would probably make more sense if McCain had done anything by way of Senatorial work all year...

Posted by Just Sayin' | September 24, 2008 1:37 PM

If McCain doesn't show up could Obama still show up and use the debate as an hour-long infomercial?

Posted by vooodooo84 | September 24, 2008 1:39 PM

Just a further undermining of democracy in the name of immediacy. How is this guy going to be able to handle more than one crisis at a time?

Posted by left coast | September 24, 2008 1:40 PM

This freaks me out. It may just be McCain chickening out. It may also be a setup for Bush to suspend the election. I'd put money on the former, but I don't discount the latter.

Posted by sleestak | September 24, 2008 1:41 PM

I think it's fairly simple in that it forces Obama to react, and lets McCain dictate terms of the debate. He comes off as the guy who wants to get back to work, and if Obama accepts this, he's following the leader. McCain looks like the man with the plan, Obama looks like the "Oh yeah, good idea. Me too!" guy.

It's bullshit, of course, McCain doesn't give a rat's ass about anything but winning. The Rove guys he has running the show probably know he's going to look bad in a debate with Obama, especially this week, and this is a brilliant way to get out of it without looking scared.

It's up to the Obama camp to come up with a good response. I'm not sure what it would be.

Posted by Anthony Hecht | September 24, 2008 1:41 PM

The McCain campaign "says" they'd still do three debates.

"Advisers also say that McCain still wants to participate in all three presidential debates, but that the schedule is up in the air." --

Posted by Al | September 24, 2008 1:42 PM

McCain doesn't want to be President any more. He does want to get back to work -- his real work, in the Senate.

And he is in a panic. And he really can't multitask dealing with the economic crisis and doing debate prep at the same time. It's too much for him.

Posted by elenchos | September 24, 2008 1:48 PM

Another attempt to change the subject, force the terms of debate, and regain initiative on the economy. Similar to using the Hurricane to cancel Bush's convention appearance -- creating the appearance of deep concern over an ongoing crisis while conveniently dodging something they didn't want to do anyway.

Posted by flamingbanjo | September 24, 2008 1:49 PM

Some things I never expect to hear from the R'S again:
1 D's want bigger government. The Dem's have never proposed an expansion of government as big as the R's are proposing. Not even close.
2 The Dem's want to socialise medicine. The R's want to socialise the entire economy.
3 The Dem's want pork barrel spending. Never has there been a Dem proposal to feed the pigs on Wall Street a trillion dollars.
4 That this deregulation mantra of the R's will ever rear it's ugly head again.
5 That the R's want to privatize Social Security and invest the money in Wall Street.
Frankly, I wish the R's would shut up all together and let the Dem's shut down this fiasco.

Posted by Vince | September 24, 2008 1:51 PM

I don't know what McCain's endgame is here, but I'm guessing that this is his basic strategy:

Number of times the word "Obama" appears on the front page of (for example) = 3. Number of times "McCain" appears = 7.

Posted by bearseatbeats | September 24, 2008 1:51 PM

Why not let McCain go hide somewhere (like he's really going to "work" in DC on a Friday & Saturday), and get a skilled surrogate to stand in? Wouldn't a debate between Obama and, say, Newt make for good policy discussion? I detest Newt, but he's smart, knows the issues and has at least thought about them. He opposes Obama's positions on many issues, so there would be natural friction to the debate. And Newt would certainly fare better than McCain would in any scenario.

I'm not really advoating that Newt Gingrich be THE guy, but someone like him who could step up to the plate on short notice. The GOP bench is a little short on major league talent right now.

If that doesn't fail, how 'bout a Palin v. Hillary cat-fight?

Posted by Sir Vic | September 24, 2008 1:52 PM

What if McCain's handlers planned this.

The current bailout proposal is designed to look terrible so it can be universally objected to, allowing McCain to 'get back to work' with a new idea that's far superior, which is accepted, allowing him to return to his campaign casually tossing off any accusations that he is and has been economically retarded for most of his political career because HE fixed that big financial problem and saved everything, with Palin smiling the whole time.

Being a paranoid voter is the balls.

Posted by jackie treehorn | September 24, 2008 1:53 PM

How can *anyone* support this Bozo? I mean, honestly. McCain's lost his bearings. He's adrift.

Posted by Balt-O-Matt | September 24, 2008 1:56 PM

Seriously though, it's as simple as saying; we can do both and anyone that can't isn't fit to be president. game over. obama wins.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | September 24, 2008 1:57 PM

@17 - Step one, collect underpants.

For that strategy to work, McCain would first have to actually come up with an alternative plan (one that beats out the other alternatives proposed by Obama & other Dems). I'm not holding my breath.

Also, Obama's going to be in the Senate for the vote, just as McCain is. Obama is multitasking, McCain is panicking.

Posted by David | September 24, 2008 1:59 PM

So a guy who's admitted he doesn't know much about the economy and is one of the "Keating five" needs to rush back to DC and put out the fire!?! Strains credulity to say the least.

Oh, and it's rich to call the debates between the men who want to run the country show business--an incredibly cynical and revealing attitude.

Posted by Westside forever | September 24, 2008 2:00 PM

Obama's statement should be:

"Without McCain's previous efforts as a champion of de-regulation, there would be no economic meltdown. His so-called 'leadership' and 'help' are no longer being solicited on this issue..."

Posted by natopotato | September 24, 2008 2:08 PM

Team McC'alin motto: you ask no questions, you get no lies.

Posted by Phenics | September 24, 2008 2:08 PM

Re point #3, there's no Florida debate. Friday's is scheduled in Oxford, MS. Florida is just where Obama is preparing.

Posted by m-e | September 24, 2008 2:08 PM

If I were Obama I'd send Biden in and say "It's too important not to deliver the message directly to the American people" - and say" I have to able to be president on wherever I am" - and let the surrogates rip McCain out of this chicken shit move.

You know if the shoe was on the other foot they would start up all that 'presumptious' bullshit again.

Imagine if the R's campaigning genius was used to govern - they might actually be worth voting for 8^)

Posted by DavidC | September 24, 2008 2:08 PM

@14: We'll see at 4:00pm, the debate here will be interesting!

Posted by Original Monique | September 24, 2008 2:09 PM

Here's a thought: McCain knows that distraction (sarah P) and lies (too many to count) are his friends whereas allowing voters to think and see the two debate (such as they are) the merits are his enemy. Putting politics aside lets the right work through sleazy issue oriented channels and simultaneously co-ops Obama's "I'm a different kind of politician" while rebutting the sleazy campaign label. Plus McCains history of deregulation is a pair of cement overshoes that he wants to distract people from by supporting the rush to bailout movement with meaningless regulation. Plus he gets to play leader in all the photo ops without actually proposing any changes.

Posted by LMSW | September 24, 2008 2:10 PM

He looks to me like he's close to losing it on some really deep personal level, and realizes he can't hold it together for a debate. Just watching him make the announcement - he said all the words, but his eyes are crazy.

Posted by Mom | September 24, 2008 2:10 PM

Off topic a little, but I'd love to see a Biden vs. Palin debate.

Posted by Dougsf | September 24, 2008 2:27 PM

This is going to backfire on McCain, in light of his week of hiding from the media. They're going to frame this decision as a chicken shit move- because it is. Should have gone on Larry King, dipshit.

Posted by Demolator | September 24, 2008 2:32 PM

@ 25: The Biden-Palin debate is scheduled for next week (Oct 2nd). That is, of course, unless the McCain-Palin campaign doesn't try to postpone that one, too.

Posted by bookworm | September 24, 2008 2:33 PM

Eli -- the trouble with your theory is that the first debate was supposed to be the foreign policy debate, which McCain for some reason believes is his strong suit. If that's the one which gets punted, he's not going to see it as a win.

Posted by Nat | September 24, 2008 2:51 PM

McCain is such a fucking coward. He knows the debates are going to be TERRIBLE for him. He sees an opportunity to skip out on one.

Gawd, I hate his guts.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | September 24, 2008 3:14 PM

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