That’s it. I surrender. I’ve been MIA for several days now, just trying to keep up with the changing winds of this presidential race, and the economic crisis, and life in general. I would sit down to start a new blog post, and literally, within 5 or 10 minutes, I would hit “refresh” on my news browser and find that some new development had…well…developed. And whatever I had already written was suddenly obsolete, as a new pile of crazy came tumbling out of the sky.
Folks, I submit to you that this past couple of weeks have transformed this country in the worst kind of way. We are no longer looking at Washington or Wall Street. What we are now looking at is a nation that has become the biggest reality show in the history of mankind. We’ve got the loopy cast of characters, we’ve got the smackdowns between rivals, we’ve got the entire world tuned in 24/7, choosing their own “bad guys” to hiss and “good guys” to root for, and alternately laughing and crying at the drama of it all. The only thing we’re missing is for Flavor Flav to show up and start mackin’ on Sarah Palin.
I love this country. I was raised to believe that it is a nation born of a courageous struggle for freedom, liberty and equality. But when I see the circus that has sprung up in the wake of the Wall Street meltdown and the bitter race for the White House, I am disgusted. The ringleader seems to be John McCain, as he encourages the chaos by changing his stance day to day (sometimes even hour to hour), and juggles platitudes, accusations and distractions in the center ring while fire shoots out of his ears, trying desperately to ensure that the spotlight stays on him at all times, by any means necessary.
Today’s display was the most desperate yet, as McCain threatened to pull his participation in the first presidential debate this Friday night, so he could go to “Warshington” and hammer out an agreement to save the financial world. This, despite the fact that everybody who has already been in Washington, working on this bill for the past several days, doesn’t really need him there.
Senator Chris Dodd, the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show this evening after President Bush’s speech. He called out McCain for pulling yet another 180:
“I’m delighted that John is expressing himself on the issue. I’ve heard from Barack Obama on numerous occasions over the last number of days, calling…I know he’s talked to Hank Paulson, and so he’s been deeply involved and interested in how this is progressing. I’ve never heard from John McCain on the issue. That’s why I’m delighted he’s expressing some interest, and I’m a little concerned that while we’re meeting – in fact, tomorrow morning at 10 AM, Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate are sitting down to try and finalize some of these particular points; we had a long meeting today, the Democratic Caucus in the Senate – and I’m just worried a little bit that sort of politicizing this problem, sort of flying in here…I’m beginning to think this is more about a rescue plan for John McCain than a rescue plan for the economy. So we’re going to meet tomorrow apparently at the White House, late in the afternoon, but candidly, a lot of us have been working for five straight days, around the clock, and I haven’t heard a word from John McCain“.
As for the House Democrats, Rep. Barney Frank (Financial Services Committee Chairman), summed it up in one sentence. Referring to McCain’s threat to cancel his participation in the debate unless an agreement is reached by Friday night, he said, “It’s the longest Hail Mary in the history of football or Marys”.
So McCain tries to act as if he is transcending the political games, and putting his country first by suspending the campaign and postponing the debate while he attends to more pressing matters. When in reality, he has not even attempted to participate in the efforts to get a bill passed before now, nor has he even had a position on the issue that was consistent from day to day. He sputters, spins, and does what he can to keep changing the dialogue from the dismal economy (which is also dismal for his campaign) to…well, anything else at all.
On the other hand, Barack Obama has been constant and calm, true to his past voting record and to his plans and proposals, refusing to pander or to backpedal. He remains assured and assuring, and he acts like someone who expects to deal with these types of crises as president and is unafraid to do so.
The circus is getting louder by the minute, with new dirt about McCain’s campaign staff being discussed every day and McCain shouting at the top of his lungs to drown out those discussions; with poll numbers slipping and McCain turning up the volume on new attack ads; with the media scrutinizing him and his running mate and McCain disparaging their journalistic credibility…the noise is beginning to overwhelm those of us who are trying our best to pay attention.
Yet in the midst of this unholy din, Obama is resolute. He is cautious. He is thoughtful. And instead of panic, he is offering a steady presence and a real hope that Congress can agree on a bill that will satisfy both the needs of the marketplace and the needs of average Americans. It’s hard to believe, but it is his quiet response that seems to be cutting through the noisy blasts from McCain’s camp and reaching the ears of voters. Polls taken over the past several days indicate that most Americans trust Obama’s ideas on the economy, rather than McCain’s. In addition, Obama picked up the electoral lead for the first time in key battleground states like Michigan, Colorado and Pennsylvania.
Of course, this is all subject to change again in the next 5 minutes or so. I guess we’ll all have to tune in to “As The U.S. Turns” tomorrow to find out if the debate will go on, if Congressional agreement on a bailout bill can be reached, and if Flavor Flav and Sarah Palin will live happily ever after. Don’t touch that dial…