Thursday, September 25, 2008

Obama should honor McCain's request to suspend

Senator McCain has suspended his campaign to concentrate on the economic fix, and asked Senator Obama to do the same, postponing debates until after an agreement on the economy is reached in Congress. So far, Obama has refused, saying the debates will go on even if he's the only one there. I think Senator Obama would be wise to change his mind.

Was McCain's request made in good faith? President Clinton thinks so . ""We know he didn't do it because he's afraid because Sen. McCain wanted more debates," Clinton said..." Even so, it could still be a trick- any grand gesture in an election cycle is suspect. But I still think he should go along with it.

Why? To do what Senator McCain is doing- to keep his Vice Presidential pick out of the public eye for some coaching. Joe Biden is a walking gaffe machine. If someone doesn't get him a tranquilizer and get him back on message, he could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory all by himself. Here's a sampling from the last ten days:

He angrily denied being in favor of clean coal technology, ranting about how that was something the Chinese did, and "No coal plants for America- let them build it over there,"... when both he and Obama individually as Senators have championed clean coal, and together have it in their campaign energy policy. The gaffe resulted in this devastating McCain ad.

Got their stance on the economic bailout package wrong, causing him to be publicly chided by Obama himself.

That echoed an earlier gaffe on the economy when he said that he didn't know a single economist who had said that raising taxes on the rich would hurt the economy during our present crisis- after Senator Obama had said that very thing himself.

And while we're on the economy, he criticized Bush's lack of public discussion by saying "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed." FDR wasn't President when the market crashed, of course, and commercially available television wouldn't be offered to the public for another ten years...

Called one of his own campaign commercials terrible , saying, “I didn’t know we did it, and if I had anything to do with it, we’d have never done it.” This from the man who says the other candidate is "out of touch".

Said that raising taxes on the rich- you know, that thing that Obama said would harm the fragile economy- was patriotic . How can Obama complain about the Republicans wrapping themselves in the flag when his running mate is doing the same thing?

I'm not even counting a myriad of lesser gaffes, like "You need to work on your pecs", or "Stand up and let them see you", or "She might have been a better pick". These are harmless in themselves, although if he keeps it up the cumulative effect could be toxic.

Senator Obama has nothing to fear in his own debates, but he'd better start worrying about the Vice presidential ones. Governor Palin is no Jefferson or Adams in the intellect department, but she is a savvy politician with a true talent for snark. Biden has already given her enough ammunition to turn the debate into a celebrity roast if she so chooses. Or she could take just one- use his coal gaffe as a launch pad for her only area of expertise, energy, for example- and make herself look presidential. And that's assuming he doesn't make another gaffe during the debate- something i wouldn't bet on.

Senator Obama should listen to Senator McCain and take the bye week- and use it sending Biden back to political boot camp.


Chalicechick said...

Given that the current President is famous for gaffes, and much more interesting ones than these, I wouldn't be too worried if I were Obama.

Also, Sarah Palin completely fell apart in front of Katie Couric. Again, Katie Couric. She was tougher than one might imagine, but she wasn't THAT tough.

Also, Obama could use a display of toughness about now where he can show that he won't be kicked around, but in a way that won't make him look like an "angry black guy." This seems tailor-made for that.

I'd go for it. Nobody gives a damn about Biden.


Joel Monka said...

You may well be right about Biden; there's been no big public fuss about him. And I'd like to see Obama debate Bob Barr one on one. I know I'm being hypocritical here, given my complaints about personal remarks in politics, but I really don't like Bob Barr, and I'd love to see Obama roast him like a Christmas chestnut.

There is one other risk here- that if McCain can pull off some kind of bipartisan compromise, like he did over the judge confirmation, he'd look like the heroic, selfless statesman while simultaneously curing his lack of economic cred. It's a small risk, though- Reid and Pelosi would convert to free marketeers and say the government should stay out before they'd allow McCain to have a leading role in any new program.

Chalicechick said...

(((There is one other risk here- that if McCain can pull off some kind of bipartisan compromise, like he did over the judge confirmation, he'd look like the heroic, selfless statesman while simultaneously curing his lack of economic cred)))

Maybe that's the plan. It would be very impressive if he pulls that off, though I think you're right that the chances of it are slim.


ogre said...

Given that a compromise solution of some sort seems to have been worked out already... and that McCain's "suspension" of his campaign didn't include not advertising (what did it include? Not letting Sarah talk to the press?)... can we move along to the debate now?

Personally? I think it was 90% politics--avoiding a debate that's going to be ugly for McCain, in a situation that's ugly. The moderators are going to want to find foreign policy questions (and will easily) that come back to domestic issues, like the economy.

If McCain's proposal wasn't simply politics, he could have personally approached a fellow senator, talked to him directly by phone, and made the case for a joint suspension. It's not something that--were it not politics--ought to be negotiated in public, through the media. But no...

And the notion that McCain (Sen. Present To Vote Under 35% Of The Time) was going to whisk back to D.C. and craft a brilliant compromise is just silly. He hasn't been around--had NOT even READ the three page legislative proposal from the Sec. of the Treasury--and simply isn't up to speed on what's going on.

So... debate tonight? Or did McCain's strenuous efforts to get back to D.C. mean that he's exhausted and can't meet Obama in Mississippi?

ogre said...

IF McCain were serious--and wanted to cleverly strongarm Obama into suspending (a moot point now)--the proper thing to do would have been to state that this crisis was too important for him to spend time campaigning... and that he was going to be back in D.C. for the duration (until legislation was signed). That he'd be skipping the debate (sorry, America...), but that what Sen. Obama did was up to him. And that since what a VP would do for a president would be to step in when the president couldn't be somewhere--when something more important demanded attention--Gov. Palin would be attending the debate (if it occurred), and would debate either Sen. Obama or Sen. Biden, if they were there.

The Democratic ticket--two senators--would then have been on the hook. Asking for a mutual suspension is inherently a weak appearing negotiation stance. Simply doing it... would have looked statesmanlike. It would also have looked like they weren't afraid to put Palin up against either of the Democrats... while leaving them the dilemma of choosing to do so when the broad implication is that they BOTH ought to be back in D.C....

Of course, there's a counter play (always is). But if McCain had been serious, and trying to play it as if from a strong hand, that's how it ought to have been done. The way he did doesn't look that way at all. Of course, the idea that a senator can't be missing from D.C. for several hours or the world might collapse is pretty amusing, given how much he's been out of it (and how much others have been--recently and for years...). Particularly when it's for such an important political event.

McCain wanted more debates? No, McCain wanted a bunch of joint town hall sessions.

Joel Monka said...

The difference between more debates and more town hall meetings seems like a quibble to me, but the rest of your points are pretty good.

Jess said...

Plus there's the timing issue -- Obama called McCain at 8:30 a.m. to talk about issuing a joint statement, McCain returned his call at 2:30, agreed to the statement, and then went on television moments later to announce the suspension of his campaign. Pure theatre on McCain's part, taking Obama totally by surprise.

And, instead of flying right back to Washington from New York, he cancels an appearance on Letterman, but does an interview with Katie Couric and a speech to the Clinton Global Initiative Conference.

The savvy thing to do would be to ask that the debate focus on economic issues rather than foreign policy, but that would negate any preparation that either candidate has done pre-debate. Of course, a President should be able to talk about any issue that is important to the public without practicing, right?

Joel Monka said...

Also good points. My thought was that agreeing would be a good reason to pull Biden off the trail for a while to get him back on message. As CC pointed out, his gaffes haven't mattered yet- but how long can he keep it up before it does? If he doesn't shut up soon, all Palin will have to do is not drool to look equally competent.

Chalicechick said...

(((And that since what a VP would do for a president would be to step in when the president couldn't be somewhere--when something more important demanded attention--Gov. Palin would be attending the debate (if it occurred), and would debate either Sen. Obama or Sen. Biden, if they were there.)))

That's essentially what David Letterman said.

Having seen a few of the Palin/Couric Interview clips that Wonkette has, I'm genuinely thinking they don't think Palin can handle it. She's read the speech someone wrote for her just fine, but she's not good on her feet.


ogre said...


Ah. Being a refugee from TVland, I only know what people tell me about what goes on there (barring the odd thing I see online in a clip). But yeah, I think that the idea of letting Palin go out into "the arena" terrifies the campaign. She'll waffle, freeze, spew ELIZA-like responses that aren't salient and generally implode. She operates at a level beyond gaffedom (McCain, Biden).... Ah well. My bet is that she doesn't show up. There will be some crisis over which she'll cancel.

Chalicechick said...


The post I put up on the Chaliceblog with the Palin videos is for you.