Friday, September 26, 2008

The View from the Cheap Seats

McCain calls for suspension of all campaigning in order to resolve the financial crisis. Makes him look take-charge, seizing control of the situation. Point: McCain.
McCain 1 - Obama 0

Obama points out that they can be working on both simultaneously, invoking the chewing gum and walking analogy. Point: Obama.
McCain 1 - Obama 1

Both candidates, neither of whom is on the committee that’s supposed to be hammering out this deal, head to Washington, arriving just as a tentative deal is announced: Points all around for looking like part of a “historic event” and getting the media salivating despite not actually doing any of the work.
McCain 2 - Obama 2

As deal is discussed, Obama peppers them with questions, while McCain says little and doesn’t take a position. Makes Obama look involved in the process, and intelligent. Doesn’t help or hurt McCain. Point: Obama.
McCain 2 - Obama 3

After deal is reviewed, Republican senators indicate that there’s no agreement after all and offer up a totally different plan which probably should’ve been in the mix during the original negotiations. Obama and the Democrats cry stonewalling, and making themselves look like the ones who were doing all the work, but simultaneously tying their party on as the instigators of a very unpopular, very expensive bailout. McCain goes on record as opposing the original plan, but not endorsing the new plan, making himself look like the chief stonewaller, but still managing to look like he’s for a solution without actually tying himself into any particular solution, so he can bitch about whatever is the end result. Bush simply looking helpless: “Guys? Guys?” Public contemplates sending in their squabbling kids, because they could probably resolve the situation faster and more competently. Half point to Obama for looking like he’s doing something, but negative point for tying himself to the bailout. Point to McCain for putting himself in the catbird seat of not fixing anything yet getting to bitch about everything.
McCain 3 - Obama 2.5

Prediction: they're playing a very dangerous game, because anyone who ties themselves to this bailout is up for a huge political liability long-term 'cause everyone hates it and no one will want to pay for it later. Yet anyone who doesn't sign on to "the solution" is in for a huge political liability in the short term 'cause everyone wants the situation fixed and if we don't do something, it will be seen as the cause of any further meltdowns that occur.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

McCain is closest at this point to the ultimate political goal: be considered part of the solution without actually seeming to be in favor of the solution itself.

However, I predict he'll give that advantage up. Those who are afraid he'll claim credit for brokering the deal when he does finally cave are correct. He doesn't give a crap, politically speaking, about the long-term effects on his career in tying himself to the solution, 'cause his career really doesn't have a long-term. He's 72.

He will cave and soon, albeit very reluctantly and with much shaking of heads about the negative points of this bill that the Democrat mistakes of the past have forced upon us (Chickens coming home to roost!!! Can I use that one?). Because if he doesn't, then he becomes the fly in the ointment and goes from being part of the solution to a partisan stonewaller. He wants his Maverick badge polished up by being seen as the outsider who came in and stopped the fighting.

Further, Magic 8-ball says: the debates will go on, but it is unclear as to when.

The key - IMHO - is the claim by McCain that the VP debates should be suspended as well. Given that Palin isn't in Congress and so really isn't "neglecting duties in Washington" by debating, and I presume he really doesn't give a rat's ass whether Biden is in on the discussions or not - he'd actually prefer him to stay away so he can call him a slacker - it leads me to believe that Republican higher-ups are concerned how Palin's going to do.

Palin has been quite insulated of late, after flailing in a few interviews. The only people who know how really bad or good she is are her handlers. If she's bad - and I mean really, really bad - McCain will continue to insist on suspending debates for a week or two, trying to avoid the stonewaller label by pointing out the 700 MILLION DOLLAR DEBT that the DEMOCRATS are forcing on us (Bush? Who's that?), and praying there's no further meltdowns he could be blamed for in the interim. If, on the other hand, she's been prepped to the point she's even barely coherent, they'll start on time tonight.

Meanwhile Obama . . . better get his ass in gear if he doesn't want McCain running this show.

Further musings: Probably the first and best move for Obama would be to call for transparency in government by having these negotiations in some sort of public forum (C-Span, anyone?), upping the cost of any further stonewalling and providing lots of nice clips of him asking intelligent-sounding questions.

The second is to throw the bailout baby right into the arms of the Republicans in the form of Bush, who went on national television in a very long infomercial to explain why we should pull out our national credit card and buy it some new shoes, a crib, and hell, a bunch of freaking houses and companies while we're at it.

The public already blames Bush & Co. for the mess, they're not buying the hard-sell by Republicans that it was Democrat policies that started this. (Side Note: true in some aspects - there were policies that are contributing factors that were put in place during Clinton, but false in that it conveniently forgets a bunch of other contributing policies that were 100% Bush). They're not buying it because they think: "Hell, Bush has been in office eight years, and if the Republicans knew all this stuff was bad, why hadn't they fixed it by now?"

Obama's ultimate goal is probably tying the bailout mess to the tail of the Bush administration and re-hitting the McSame theme, while simultaneously reluctantly signing on to this horrible fix that is all we can do under these circumstances, thus putting himself into the catbird seat that McCain will have to give up for the short-term political gain of trying to be seen as the broker of the agreement.

Unless . . . if he can figure out a way to shut McCain out and broker a deal behind his back, and still pin that deal on the Republicans. Hmm. That would probably be the ultimate goal.

Anyways, let's all sit back and watch them play another round of Politician's Chess. If only they could attack each other like Wizard's Chess. We could sell tickets and pay the damn thing off that way.

Sources: CNN and NYTimes, plus a whole lot of blog and other articles confirming the basic facts of what went down.

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