Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Great Campaign Suspension Gambit of '08

The McCain Depression

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The McCain Depression: Bailout bill fails in the House, 228-205, with stocks now in freefall.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 29, 2008 at 6:42 pm

The Bailout, Bristol Palin, and More

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A tenatative deal has been reached on the bailout, with House Republicans still making noise that they may scuttle it. Krugman, for his part, says it’s “good enough”—hardly a ringing endorsement, but perhaps as good as we’re likely to get in the middle of an election season with Bush still president. McCain, for his part, suggests he might not bother to show up to vote, driving home once again the absurdity of last week’s campaign-suspension spectacle.

(For which Saturday Night Live mocked him without mercy this weekend, I should add.)

The chaos in the markets, the transparent campaign-suspension nonsense, and a strong showing from Obama in the debate seem to have conspired to put the election even farther out of McCain’s reach with just 36 days to go until Election Day (and early voting already open in many locations around the country). The tracking polls all have him up by five or more, with three of them showing Obama cracking 50%, and the state polls look very strong. The Senate races are going well too, though as Nate Silver projects it’s probably still unlikely that the Democrats will get 60 in the Senate.

How will McCain recover? If you said “ridiculous stunt,” you’re right! The Times of London reports that Bristol Palin may get married before Nov. 4.

In an election campaign notable for its surprises, Sarah Palin, the Republican vice- presidential candidate, may be about to spring a new one — the wedding of her pregnant teenage daughter to her ice-hockey-playing fiancé before the November 4 election.

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

Boggles the mind. I don’t even think the odds are especially good that a Palin-Johnston wedding would help their campaign—putting aside questions of Palin’s rapidly diminishing credibility as a candidate, this is a 17-year-old girl who has already been nationally humiliated once. I look at this situation and what I see is a shotgun wedding whose timetable is being set less by love or lasting commitment than by the mother’s electoral calculus. Let me be clear: I’m not speaking about the merits of the wedding itself, on which I have no perspective and no comment, but rather about the drive to make a spectacle out of his girl’s life, which strikes me as deeply tragic on the one hand and as an ugly circus on the other. I really don’t think I’m alone in this.

I (honestly) hate to even blog about this, and I’m pretty damn cutthroat when it comes to Republicans and electoral politics. These two kids should just be left alone.

So, to cut this discussion blessedly short, I think the odds are a wedding stunt would backfire badly. But then again I suppose bad odds never stopped a gambler.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 29, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Waiting for the Liveblog to Begin

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Waiting for the liveblogging to begin, a few links.

* Sixty-one Nobel laureates have jointly endorsed Obama.

* So have donuts and bacon.

* Slate predicts McCain’s next ten Hail Marys, while the L.A. Times takes on the potential downside of his “Great Man” strategy:

But as many Great Men come to learn, there is a colossal downside built into running a campaign on outsized personal virtue. The line between stoic, honorable service and showy moral vanity is oftentimes difficult to maintain.

And when a candidate confuses his own political ambitions with the fortunes of his country, that’s when Great Men turn into self- parodies.

*Spencer Ackerman has the world’s best wrap-up of the Great Campaign Suspension Stunt of ’08.

Let’s recap. McCain kinda-but-doesn’t-really suspend his campaign to make himself the indispensable man in the bailout agreement. He gets to Washington as an object of ridicule and the deal falls apart — something that at least some people, admittedly Democrats, attribute to McCain’s transparent stunt. Then, despite Harry Reid saying he’s going to keep the Senate in session until there’s a deal, McCain abruptly announces he’s… going back to campaigning (not that he stopped!) and will attend the debates.

* Entertainment Weekly interviews Stewart and Colbert.

* Far-right-wing columnist Kathleen Parker argues that Palin needs to step down in, of all places, the National Review (!).

McCain can’t repudiate his choice for running mate. He not only risks the wrath of the GOP’s unforgiving base, but he invites others to second-guess his executive decision-making ability. Barack Obama faces the same problem with Biden.

Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

Do it for your country.

This backs up new claims that the McCain campaign is deeply panicked over her utter lack of ability.

* And Kevin Drum and Brad DeLong are doing their best to walk the blogosphere back from the brink on the bailout.

To get get a $500B macroeconomic gain in production and employment, Paulson wants to take on a position with an expected value of -$100B. But the true value of that position could be anywhere between +$200B and -$400B. Looks like a good bet to me.

McCain Backs Down

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Breaking from CNN: Sen. John McCain will participate in tonight’s presidential debate.

UPDATE: And according to his Web site, he’s already won! Congratulations, Senator!

Written by gerrycanavan

September 26, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Pundits Aren’t Buying

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Today’s Abbreviated Pundit Round-up at Kos shows that by and large the pundits aren’t buying McCain’s suspension stunt.

I’ll be blogging intermittently throughout the day as usually, but it’s worth saying that I’ll be liveblogging the debate tonight, whether or not McCain decides to show up…

Written by gerrycanavan

September 26, 2008 at 11:49 am

Calling Bullshit, and Explaining the Need for a Bailout

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Jeffrey Toobin calls bullshit on the “suspension” of John McCain’s campaign.

TPM also has word that McCain’s ads will begin airing again on Saturday, deal or no deal—proving once and for all that this has been nothing more than a silly stunt, the only likely consequence of which is to scuttle a sorely-needed compromise on some sort of bailout.

Bloggers, who tend to consider themselves experts on everything, have by and large talked themselves into a completely incorrect position on this. I’m by no means an expert on the economy, either, but at least I understand the basic principle: the economy is an engine and the credit market is the oil. Run your engine without any oil and the thing will seize up.

This is not a joke, a scam, or a Bush Administration lie. What we’re seeing in the markets is the real consequence of an environment in which banks are afraid to loan anyone, including each other, any money. Washington Mutual failed tonight—by far the largest bank failure in American history. This is a serious crisis. It may not require $700B+, and it certainly won’t require the no-rules giveaway that Paulson favors, but it’s going to take massive government intervention to keep the credit market afloat, and time genuinely is running out.

Luckily for me, I’ve never had a real job, so my non-existent 401(k) will be just fine. But if the economy seizes and the stock market tanks, and the country slides into the sort of severe economic downturn that the experts are warning us about, a lot of people will be broke and a lot more will be out of work—and you’ll know exactly who’s to blame for it.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 26, 2008 at 2:25 am

Evening Links

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Evening links.

* McCain is still hinting that he won’t show up at the debate tomorrow. (This campaign has become so insane, I can hardly stand it. What the hell is this? Are they really serious?) What we’re seeing now is exactly the consequence of Obama’s warning not to inject presidential politics into delicate legislative negotiations—McCain’s fake campaign suspension has done nothing but derail the process.

* He’s not too busy to be on the teevee, of course.

* And of course this is all Obama’s fault for not agreeing to the town halls. John, I’m begging you, just shut up.

* Barbara Boxer doesn’t hold back in her anger over what’s happening.

* Sarah Silverman makes her bid to save America with the Great Schelp.

* Al Gore blows my mind with a call for civil disobedience against the building of additional coal plants.

“If you’re a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration,” he said at the third annual meeting of former President Bill Clinton’s initiative, which arranges partnerships between the very rich and the very needy.

* And here’s why: Global carbon emissions jumped 3% in 2007.

* On a more optimistic note, Obama supports NASA.

* Obama and Biden will be coming to Greensboro on the *only day for the next month I’ll be out of North Carolina*. Damn you, Obama! There’s a reason for this visit: North Carolina looks to be right on the brink of flipping. More at Facing South in two parts.

Deal on Bailout Reached

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Thank God for John McCain: just yesterday, the bailout plan was in ruins, and now, thanks entirely to his timely opportunism stunt suspension of campaign-related activities a deal has now been made.

…anyone know if his plane has even reached DC yet?

TEN-SECONDS-LATER UPDATE: The Kos diary says he just got out of his limo and into his office. Ha.

The WSJ has details, which generally looks favorable to the more Democratic position on this:

Much is still uncertain and the contours of a likely bill could change. But the outlines of a potential compromise began to emerge late Wednesday after congressional leaders started considering restrictions on the bailout plan that could break the pool of money into installments.

A likely bill would include limits on executive pay in situations where the government puts a large amount of money into a failing institution. In certain cases, the government could receive warrants that would give it the right to acquire shares in the company. Also included is beefed-up oversight through the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 25, 2008 at 5:55 pm

After the Flood

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Trying to puzzle out John McCain’s motive for the campaign suspension stunt is proving rather difficult. A lot of people are looking to Palin, both her disastrous Katie Couric interview and the repeated suggestion that hey, you know, we could just cancel the VP debate. (On the margins, Palin’s so-called “preacher problem” is also showing up in these discussions; she definitely loses the secular progressive swing vote with this one.) Or maybe, others venture, he’s trying to cover up his own lack of debate preparation. Still other people think he may be trying to keep the Rick Davis story out of the papers, as there’s now word that Rick Davis didn’t sever his relationship with his lobbying firm and is in fact still listed as one of its only two officers. And a lot of people just point to the polls—witness as just one example a Rasmussen poll that now puts Obama ahead right here in North Carolina (!). Or maybe we should just bring it all back, as Steve Benen does, to the fundamental question that recurs about so much of John McCain’s gambles: cynicism, or risk addiction?

Whatever it is, it’s worth noting that McCain has pulled this very stunt at least twice before.

Reactions have been legion, almost all of them negative, but Noam Scheiber in particular is on fire with posts that suggest just how badly this may backfire on McCain, comparing it first to a form of political hari-kari and then pointing out elsewhere the way in which the gambit automatically defeats itself:

“Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative.”

Clinton Global Intiative > financial crisis > longstanding-to-the-point-of-sacred tradition of nationally televised presidential debate? This will not stand.

Reactions to the Great Campaign Suspension Gambit of ’08

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Reactions to the great campaign suspension gambit of ’08.

“If you were wondering how bad McCain’s pollster was telling him things are, there’s your confirmation.”
—A Democratic strategist Michael Crowley knows

“It’s the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys.”
Barney Frank

“I understand that the candidates are putting together a joint statement at Senator Obama’s suggestion. But it would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation’s economy. If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership; not a campaign photo op.”
Harry Reid

Shorter Ben Burton: We’re already working on a joint statement, and it was Obama’s idea.

“Both candidates have been marginal players; McCain, though, seems to have the potential to make himself a major one, and his move is a mark, most of all, that he doesn’t like the way this campaign is going. But in terms of the timing of this move: The only thing that’s changed in the last 48 hours is the public polling.”
Ben Smith

“Isn’t this the campaign equivalent of faking an injury when you’re down late in the 4th quarter?”
John Marshall

Uh, no.
—Barack Obama

Written by gerrycanavan

September 24, 2008 at 8:40 pm