So, apparently the nation's economy is swirling down the drain, dragging much of the world with it. Oil prices are gyrating wildly (but trending toward outer space), the dollar continues to sink, and millions of people are still clearing the debris of yet another hurricane. Now is clearly the time for John McCain to "suspend" his presidential campaign and race back to Washington for a photo-op.
Yeah, that's what we need.
Perhaps I'm being unfair. Maybe the GOP nominee genuinely feels that his insight into derivatives and stock-swaps is critical to cleaning this mess. This candidate who recently admitted that he really doesn’t know much about the economy is now threatening to bring a whole new storm to Washington: a press corps looking for news amid the tedium of real policy-making.
Only incidentally do we awaken this morning to Senator McCain setting up a new string of attack ads against his opponent. Speaking at the Clinton Summit, McCain opined that there's no time for frivolity, that the "real debate" transcends politics. Sure, the commercials have been pulled. But the edit suites are humming with fresh vitriol.
I'm with David Letterman on this one [video pops in new page]: something smells. The very candidate who marched lockstep with the president, assuring voters that the economy is sound, the one rightly suffering in declining poll numbers for such cluelessness, doesn't want to debate a strengthening opponent. At least not on a debate floor.
Time to seize the high ground.
Here's the problem. Although Senator McCain claims that he is putting country first, the candidate is clearly trying to paint his opponent as a politician in an age that demands statesmanship. It's a campaign funded by the taxpayers. And it stinks. Sure, we tolerate our candidates skipping votes to raise money in the endless campaign. But shouldn't we draw the line at a candidate who would transform the senate floor into a commercial studio?
This is the sad fact. Our economy is sufficiently screwed up - experts refer to this crisis as a once-in-a-lifetime event - that Barack Obama and John McCain are rightly marginalized. We don't demand their expertise, because they have little to offer. Better that they debate the broad parameters of the various solutions on the table and leave the details to the experts.
Senator McCain, here's what you should do: Find a glimmer of hope, some justification for reversal, and un-suspend your campaign. Our presidents must be multitaskers-in-chief, able to walk and chew gum at the same time. And the American people need to hear their political leaders debate the issues that confront our nation. Demonstrate our resilience, our ability to trudge forward, to those who believe that our nation is falling apart. Get back where you belong.
The election is fast approaching, and a critical mass of Americans still aren't sure which way to vote (amazing, but true). That's why, senator, you should return to the campaign trail and make your case. Eat stale pie at some small town diner. Entertain some bizarre question about riparian rights at a town hall meeting. Kiss a baby for the photographers. Just stay out of Washington.
That place needs real help.