Saturday, September 27, 2008

Definitive, Prematurely

During the discussion among Barack Obama, John McCain, and moderator Jim Lehrer at the presidential debate of 9/26/08 about the current economic crisis, the following exchange transpired:

LEHRER: Are you going to vote for the plan, Senator McCain?
MCCAIN: I — I hope so. And I…
LEHRER: As a United States senator…
LEHRER: … you’re going to vote for the plan?
MCCAIN: Sure. But — but let me — let me point out, I also warned about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac...

This is the presidential nominee who dropped everything (including David Letterman, though not Katie Couric) to hustle down to Washington to meet with House Republicans- who are fairly hostile to the bailout idea- and helped scuttle a proposed agreement on September 25. Now, with negotiations continuing, John McCain says not a) "I'm hopeful I can support it;" b) "if it meets the needs of the middle class hurting in this country, who will be victimized if we don't get it right";" or c) (consistent with his myth of a bipartisan maverick) "Congressional negotiators haven't stopped their partisan bickering long enough to present a full bill yet so it would be irresponsible not to withhold judgement." Instead, he says "sure," I'm going to vote for it.

A complete reversal within a few days is conceivable, however. When Russia invaded Georgia, McCain declared on August 12 "I think it's very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian Empire. Not the Soviet Union, but the Russian Empire" and "'Today, we are all Georgians. " On August 14, he ruled out military action against the aggressive regime, stating

I don't think we're going to reignite the Cold War here with Russia. I think this is a very serious situation but I don't see it as a return to nuclear standoffs, etcetera, etcetera. I want to have a dialogue with the Russians, I want them to get out of Georgian territory as quickly as possible and I'm interested in good relations between the United States and Russia.

If his opponent had taken military action off the table (which he did not) Senator McCain may have criticized Obama- justifiably, I believe- by charging "This is dangerous. It isn’t just naive; it’s dangerous." (This was McCain's criticism of Obama for wanting to negotiate with Iran without preconditions, as former Secretaries of State believe the President should.)

Impulsive to the end. John McCain.

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