Perhaps it is merely a matter of bad judgment. If picking Palin as vice-president is any indication, then few — aside from the dangerously uninformed and crazies who bite the heads off snakes in their churches — will accuse McCain of being judicious. If Katie Couric’s CBS interviews did not convince voters that Palin is at best clueless and at worst ignorant, then maybe the reservations of conservative eggheads, such David Brooks of the New York Times and George Will of the Washington Post, will carry more weight. Pat Buchanan, a champion of stone-age political views, has found Palin charming but wanting. And David Frum, a former speechwriter for our current leader, says that comparing Palin with former vice-president Dan Quayle belittles Quayle. That is about as savage an indictment of Palin — and of McCain’s judgment — as exists.
And then there is the truly bizarre and deeply disturbing matter of McCain’s “suspension” of his campaign so that he could sweep into Washington and rescue the nation from an impotent president and an incompetent Congress. The situation, he said, was so serious that the first presidential debate ought to have been cancelled. When Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama called his bluff, McCain, as the nation knows, showed up and debated. And McCain’s rush to the rescue failed to move even Republican House members to vote yes and save the nation from impotence and incompetence.
The fact of the matter is that McCain was hard-pressed to explain what he really thought of the Wall Street rescue plan. That, however, did not stop him from claiming credit for the bailout’s passage in the hours before it went down to defeat. That will register as one of America’s more interesting political moments.
McCain may bounce back if Palin, by whatever frighteningly minimal standard she is held to, performs well or credibly in her debate with her Democratic opponent, Senator Joe Biden. After all, the nation can expect only so much from a depressed geezer who can not keep his lies straight and has succumbed to his savior complex. (Or is it a martyr complex?)
His eagerness to sacrifice himself to save us all might have been admirable if it showed results. But it did not.
McCain is either a craven opportunist or crazy coot. Neither choice is comforting.
The gang of three
As the Phoenix goes to press, Congress is trying to rescue the botched bailout bill. There is no doubt that this must be passed, lest the nation slide into crippling economic chaos that could trigger an international meltdown. That, in turn, could boomerang to hurt college students, homeowners, employers, and workers, who are already reeling from this economic mess and will continue to do so, even if a bill passes.
The very idea of rescuing the greedy gang of overpaid Wall Streeters who triggered this crisis stinks. But years of congressional inaction, together with Bush’s disastrous faith in free markets, is what allowed the greed-heads to prosper. Three Massachusetts congressmen, John Tierney, Stephen Lynch, and William Delahunt, voted — incorrectly, we believe — against the measure. (See David S. Bernstein’s interview on his Talking Politics blog.) It is time for them to hold their noses, if they must, and vote for this necessary rescue. Not to do so is to engage in the same sort of craps-game thinking that led to the crisis in the first place.