Political Stuntman

John McCain is looking more and more like a desperate and dishonest politician willing to pull any stunt to change the subject and grab some headlines in hope that he can save his dwindling chance at power.

He said he was “suspending” his presidential campaign to go back to Washington to deal with the economic crisis and the bailout discussions. But after lying to David Letterman, cancelling his appearance cuz he just had to hop on a plane and head to DC (but then staying in NY and sitting down for an interview with Katie Couric), his campaign changed their story and said he cancelled because “this is not a time for comedy.”

Oh, spare me the drama. Sure the economic crisis is very serious, but “this is not a time for comedy”??? This isn’t Sept.12… and oh by the way, I guess it was okay for The Formerly Honorable Sen. McCain to appear on the Conan O’Brien show on August 29, 2005 after celebrating his birthday with President Bush… that same day Katrina and breached levies were drowning an American city. Was that a “time for comedy”?

By most accounts, McCain’s announcement that he was bringing the presidential campaign circus to Capitol Hill actually served to inject partisanship into the negotiations and kill what everyone thought was a deal on the bailout. Heckuva job there Johnny!

If all this wasn’t bad enough… he didn’t actually suspend his campaign. His advertisements were still running in key swingstates. His campaign offices were still open and running. His surrogates were still all over TV talking him up. And, despite McCain’s stated campaigning hiatus, his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, paid a highly visible visit to memorials in lower Manhattan to those killed on Sept. 11.

Ohh, okay. Suspend the campaign…. but go ahead with the 9/11 photo op. Stay classy McCain/Palin!!

And then there’s this ridiculous stunt about wanting to cancel/postpone the first debate. The rest of us regular working Americans are somehow capable of taking care of our kids in the morning, going to work and attending important meetings during the day, and then doing something else in the evening. To paraphrase Obama, sometimes the President has to handle more than one thing at a time. Come on, Uncle John, just show up to the debate…. after all, it is only against some naive inexperienced celebrity community organizer, right? How hard could it be?

When asked about the debate on the CBS Evening News, McCain responded: “I understand how important this debate is and I’m very hopeful, but I also have to put the country first.” Is anyone buying this horseshit? This is the guy who has missed more Senate votes than anyone. When the latest G.I. Bill was voted on, he put Campaign First and blew off the vote to appear at a high-price fundraising dinner. But now all of a sudden he wants to make this all about him (despite his Country First talk), as if Congress cant function without him. As if the first debate in this crucial Presidential contest is somehow not important to the country.

Back to the bailout negotiations, from the Washington Post’s late Thursday afternoon update by Michael D. Shear and Lori Montgomery:

Sen. John McCain returned to Washington on Thursday after declaring that he has suspended his campaign, but he appeared largely detached from the flurry of negotiations on a $700 billion economic rescue package that appeared to be headed to a successful conclusion.

McCain’s “Straight Talk Air” landed at National Airport just after noon, and McCain’s motorcade sped toward the Senate. But by then, senior Democrats and Republicans were already announcing that a deal in principle had been reached.

“This is the presidential campaign of John McCain undermining what Hank Paulson tells us is essential for the country,” said Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. “This is McCain at the last minute getting House Republicans to undermine the Paulson approach.”

The White House meeting was in part the result of McCain’s stunning pronouncement Wednesday that he would stop campaigning to return to Washington, where he had urged Bush to convene a summit to address the crisis.

… for most of the afternoon, McCain has not visibly been part of the action on the issue. He was not present when House and Senate negotiators emerged from a two-hour meeting to declare success. That announcement was made by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Robert F. Bennett (Utah) and Frank.

McCain, by contrast, spent some time in his office with several Republican colleagues, briefly stopped at Boehner’s office, then left for lunch at the Capitol’s Mansfield Room before returning to his office in the Russell Senate Office Building.

So he doesn’t land until after noon…. Then goes and dicks around the Senate with his boy Joe Lieberman, and then he goes out for lunch? But he doesn’t have the time or inclination to go before the American people and debate Barack Obama and show and tell us why we should trust him to be the leader of the free world?

McCain’s not putting Country First. He’s not showing leadership. He’s just a stuntman in a political theater.

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