For the first time in years, I watched David Letterman last night. I watched because, when my wife was watching Keith Olberman’s Countdown earlier, Olberman made mention of his appearance that evening on Letterman replacing McCain and, apparently, Dave was on fire. I used to be a huge Letterman fan, but his humor is getting old and repetitive, and watching last night was a bit of a painful reminder of that.
But that’s not my point.
McCain canceled his appearance on Letterman at the last second, apparently calling Dave personally to inform him that he’d be “racing back to Washington” to help out with the financial crisis which was “cratering.” Dave made the excellent point that, when a crisis happens during a campaign, a senator running for president is wise to go back to Washington to take care of business, but you don’t suspend your campaign – you let your running mate shoulder the responsibility. As Barack Obama pointed out in his response to McCain’s suspension announcement, a president usually has to deal with multiple things at once, and a campaign 40 days away from election day is just about as important as the financial crisis.
But, OK, McCain could theoretically be forgiven for canceling his appearance on Letterman. And it’s conceivable that Palin, who’s on her whirlwind hand-shaking foreign policy tour in New York, may have had a scheduling conflict, so it shouldn’t indicate anything.
Except, McCain didn’t rush back to Washington. Instead, he held an 11-minute unscheduled interview with CBS News’ Katie Couric at the same time he was scheduled to appear on Letterman. During a time of crisis, appearing on CBS News as opposed to appearing on Letterman certainly lends some amount of gravity to him and this situation – after all, if he had appeared on Letterman after suspending his campaign, it could be argued that he wasn’t taking it that seriously. However, he flat lied to David Letterman. This alone is not all that damning, but how clueless must McCain be to think that Letterman wouldn’t talk about it on his show? And how big a slap in the face is it for Dave, in the middle of discussing the current situation with Olberman, to learn that McCain is not only still in New York, but on live TV in another CBS studio giving an interview when he’s supposed to be on a plane back to Washington?
In choosing to appear on CBS News instead of Letterman – and lying about his choice – McCain clearly proved once and for all that this entire suspension of his campaign is pure political stunt. He apparently arrived in Washington this morning. And what has his presence so far done? Well, certainly, congress appears to have come to an agreement on the proposed bailout, long before both McCain, Obama and other congressional leaders are scheduled to meet with President Bush. But is this because McCain – who, by the way, has not been an integral part of the process leading up to this bailout – made his presence known, waved his hand and fixed everything? Of course not – McCain’s presence did nothing but add a vote.
Right now, the very worst thing that can happen to John McCain’s candidacy is for Congress to pass the bailout legislation before Friday evening. If it turns out he suspended his campaign and threatened to boycott the debates for no reason, he’s going to have a hell of a time explaining himself to this nation. If his running mate – a governor with absolutely no say or stakes in this bailout – can’t carry on his campaign when he’s needed in Washington, how can anyone expect her to carry on the work of the country should something happen to him while in office? And what does it say of a man who can’t focus on more than one thing at a time? If this is how McCain is going to react in a national crisis as president, this country is screwed, even more screwed than it is now.
As Olberman pointed out last night, delaying the debate may lead to the cancellation of one of the other debates. And, at the end of the day, which debate is more important – presidential or vice-presidential? If they cut the VP debate, we may never get a real glimpse of Sarah Palin outside of the tightly scripted box they’ve put her in. It’s clear the GOP leadership doesn’t believe she can hold her own and must absolutely be regretting their decision to put her on the ticket. Biden gaffes – and gaffes often – but he can hold his own in debates, speeches, interviews, etc. Palin clearly lacks the experience and knowledge to be able to stand up against questions from the press. McCain;s staff explained their sheltering of Palin as keeping her from the attacks from a hostile press. If she’s thin-skinned now, what will happen when she’s the second in command? Do you think Cheney needs to be protected from the vicious media? Just last night, John Stewart said that plants die three days after Cheney brushes up against them, implying that Cheney is the ultimate evil. Is Palin going to run off and be all emo the first time some reporter says a bad thing about her? Then she shouldn’t be allowed to take office.
John McCain has gone past being a disappointment. This latest stunt proves him to be a cynical douchebag of the highest caliber. He has sold out everything – his convictions, his heroic past, the support from those who respected his reformist past – in a desperate last-ditch effort for the presidency. This is it. When he loses in November – and, mark my words, his campaign will only get worse before it gets better – he will never be able to run for president again. Those who lose presidential bids after obtaining their party’s nomination rarely get a second chance, and this country does not tolerate a loser, especially one who would be 80 years old by the end of his first term. He knows this is his one, best chance. In his desperation, he has made appallingly poor judgement calls – abandoned the ideals he once championed, selecting an inexperienced woman in a bid for the womens’ vote, suspending his campaign to deal with a crisis that is better than half over – that prove he is unfit to lead this nation. When he was a POW, his bravery and stamina were beyond reproach. But this country needs to learn that being shot down and tortured by monsters does not make one qualified to lead. John McCain proves this point stronger every day and, in a time when everything we’ve built as a nation looks ready to crumble, he is not qualified to be our president.