McCain’s Gambit

When I heard of McCain’s decision to “suspend” his campaign and go to D.C. to work on the bailout, I had two reactions:

  1. This is the dumbest thing a candidate could possibly do.
  2. This was a brilliant move that will help cement McCain’s “Country First” theme in a way that nothing else could.

I still don’t know which it is.

Sen. McCain may be on to something here. People are sick and tired of Washington politics. We talk about the President’s abysmal approval ratings, but Congress’ are even worse. As this nation faces the greatest economic crisis we have faced since the Great Depression, we need real political leadership in Washington.

John McCain went back to D.C. and did his duty. Barack Obama ended up having to go back to D.C. at the behest of the President, and missed an opportunity to join with McCain on this issue.

I’m leaning more towards the “politically brilliant” theory—but McCain needs to take the step of connecting this to the larger “Country First” theme of his campaign. Either as his introduction to the debate or in a major address tomorrow, he needs to state very clearly why he took the action he did. All he needs to say in essence is that his country needed a leader, and that call was far more important than playing politics. If he can get that message out, I think this will be a political win for him.

McCain acted admirably in doing what he did. Even Bill Clinton said as much. Politics aside, his actions were right because we don’t need more politicians blowing smoke up our collective asses. We need men and women willing to put the national interest above getting elected. If we had a spirit like that in Washington all along, we would not be in this crisis right now.

If this was a political move on McCain’s part, it was an incredibly gutsy move. Something tells me that it was not. This was John McCain being John McCain. If he can explain himself well and demonstrate that quality of his character in the next few days, it could go a long way towards ensuring that Sen. McCain becomes President McCain.