Posted by: mutantpoodle | September 16, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

Imagine, if you’re John McCain, how irretrievably depressed you’re feeling this morning.

You were on a roll. Sarah Palin had knocked Obama off his game (and, more importantly, off the front page); she’d helped drive your poll numbers north of Obama, she’d survived an interview with Charlie Gibson without looking too much dumber than George W. Bush (standards these days being pretty low), and while you were starting to get blowback on the ridiculous string of lies you were serving up both about Palin’s record and Obama’s, you were thinking you could ride a lipstick-wearing pig all the way to November 4th and wind up in the White House come January 20th.

And then this happens.

Now, if you had a lifelong record of championing sensible regulation of Wall street; if you hadn’t said on numerous occasions that the economy wasn’t your strong suit; if you really were a maverick when it came to opposing the Republican party’s maniacal opposition to almost any market regulation, and your good friend and economic adviser hadn’t been the one who pushed at least some of the deregulation that made this collapse possible – well, then the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the absorption of Merrill Lynch into B of A, and the very real problems with AIG might be good news for your campaign. You could point to your bona fides on the issue, act like the elder statesman and calm hand you pretend to be with respect to foreign policy, and probably lock in a victory.

Instead – and I am not making this up – on Monday you say the fundamentals of the economy are strong (Joe Biden has some fun with that above), and today you say we’re in crisis and – wait for it – call for the formation of a commission.

Because, as Joe Sudbay at Americablog points out, that’s not an inside the beltway solution at all.

This doesn’t mean McCain won’t find some other whopper to foist on us about Barack Obama – perhaps we’ll hear that his first step when driving to the basket playing hoops is really traveling – but it’s hard to play that game at a time like this and not look very, very small.

Actually, my feeling was that Palin’s almost pathological dishonesty – and McCain’s, for that matter – was coming close to imploding on McCain anyway. Kevin Drum has started chronicling the “Enough” club – made of previously sympathetic to fawning journalists who had the scales fall from their eyes and now see McCain as the rank opportunist that he is. Drum’s list includes Michael Kinsley, Thomas Friedman, Sebastian Mallaby, Joe Klein, E.J. Dionne, Ruth Marcus, Mark Halperin, and Bob Herbert. And since he wrote that list, Richard Cohen has purchased a Platinum membership, and David Ignatius and John Farrell have joined as well. That takes you dangerously close to critical mass, and if the theme going forward is that John McCain is an ex-maverick who’ll do anything to get elected and all of a sudden you don’t have a home-field issue advantage (the economy is a very-far-away game for Senator McCain – sort of like Ohio State in any big game not involving Michigan), things don’t look so good after all.

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