Honestly, I no longer know what to make of John McCain anymore. A man who has readily admitted he doesn’t know much about the economy makes a big show of bringing his presidential campaign to a grinding halt to rush to Washington to fix it, which seems a bit like a NASA auto pool mechanic declaring to all and sundry that he’s going to stop making oil changes to rush to Florida to consult on the Shuttle. And, by the way, he also suggests we cancel (or, “delay”) the presidential debate on Friday, and maybe the VP debate next week. You know, just to be sure we’re all focused on the economy, instead of, frivolous things, such as the fact that John McCain apparently hasn’t had a useful thought about the national economy since he married a heiress, and that Sarah Palin can’t be trusted to extemporize about damn near anything without appearing like she’s stuffing her conservative-yet-stylish pumps far enough down her throat to alarm her epiglottis. Really, no. Just no.
I don’t mind that McCain is suddenly very actively concerned about the fundamentals of our economy; it’s a nice change from the previous week. But I wish that this sudden, overwhelming concern wasn’t such a transparent attempt to continue to McCain presidential strategy of attempting to win the White House without being required to articulate coherently to the public or the press why he’s presidential material. McCain has missed more Senate votes this year than any senator not recovering from a massive stroke, so an active presence in the Senate is not something he’s put much of a premium on since beginning his campaign. He isn’t rushing to Washington to help, he’s running away from everything else. He is the Sir Robin of 2008 presidential election. Soon they will have to eat the flacks. And there will be much rejoicing.
As many other people have noted, a president will need to be able to do more than one thing at a time, and a president should at least be able to look as if he’s thinking about what might give him a political advantage for the next five minutes, after which yet another course correction will be needed, and soon. This stuff doesn’t make him look decisive and focused; it makes him look desperate and opportunistic, as in thank God, I have an excuse to bail out on my commitments, and waving a hasty “see ya” and leaving it to his spin boys to explain why his absence is a manifestation of his virtue. It’s not. His commitment at the moment is making the argument that he should be president. He’s failing that commitment, and the argument, and, incidentally, the nation he wants to lead.