John McCain said he and Democratic rival Barack Obama should suspend their presidential campaigns and delay Friday's scheduled debate to work with lawmakers on a plan for addressing the financial-markets crisis.
McCain said the Bush administration's proposal to rescue struggling financial companies and unlock credit markets won't pass Congress in its current form.
He said he will return to Washington tomorrow to join congressional deliberations, and won't participate in the debate unless there is a resolution by then.
I'm sure some in McCain's campaign think a time out is a good idea as it can be used to slow the momentum of his decline. The economic crisis provides perfect cover for this maneuver. The McCain campaigners want their guy to be seen rushing back to take charge of this important issue. They want him to be seen as caring more about what's good for America than about campaigning for president. I'm sure many will take his actions at face value and be impressed by them. Not me. I don't believe a word of it.
First, McCain is largely responsible for this mess. During his twenty-six years in congress he has been a tireless voice for deregulation, doing a way with the structure of laws and oversight that pulled us out of the depression in the thirties and prevented a repeat of those horrible events for over seventy years. That structure has been good for American workers, consumers, and retirees, but opposed by speculators who make huge profits by exploiting short-sighted gains and running away before they have to pay the consequences. Led by his advisor Phil "Whiners" Gramm, the Republicans finally succeeded in undoing the work of the New Deal Under Reagan and the Gingrich-DeLay congresses. After that, it was just a matter of time before things collapsed. Many economists and responsible, civic minded businessmen like Warren Buffett warned that this was coming, but people like McCain mocked them as "nay-sayers" and encouraged the builders of our economic house of cards. As one of the architects of this mess, McCain is one of the last people we should look to as a leader in fixing the problem.
Secondly, despite his sneering dismissal of Obama's patriotism, it is McCain who cares more about getting elected than anything else. It is McCain who has racked up a higher absentee rate over the last two years than anyone in the Senate. While Obama warned of the coming crisis and offered solutions, McCain travelled the election circuit proudly bragging about his record of fighting regulation, confessing his ignorance on economic matters, and promising more and longer wars for the next generation to fight.
Finally, why should he be allowed to opt out of the election process now? What better time for the American people to hear what he has to offer, to make him explain why we should trust him?
This call for a time out should fill us with doubt and fear. When the president is called on to deal with one crisis, America's other problems and enemies don't patiently wait until he finishes, has a nap, and is ready for them. Today, Kim Jong Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the next hurricane aren't going to wait until we're done with this problem before causing trouble. Their manners won't get any better during a McCain administration. If McCain doesn't have the energy, attention span, or ability to do more than one thing at once, McCain doesn't have what it takes to be president. Period.