John McCain’s weird, drama-queen, “it’s all about me” moment just came to a crushing halt, as he has apparently backed down and agreed to attend the debate in Mississippi tonight.
I’m not sure what McCain gained from all the histrionics. The guy who just months ago said he didn’t really know all that much about the economy apparently expected voters to buy the idea that Congress was waiting to act on the financial crisis until it could first consult his expertise.
He canceled an appearance on David Letterman’s show, apparently calling Letterman himself to apologize, explaining that he was “racing to the airport” to catch a last-minute flight back to D.C. Unfortunately for McCain, Letterman then busted him taping an interview with Katie Couric, still in New York, at the same time McCain was supposed to be taping his appearance on Letterman. The whole episode exposed this for what it was: a cynical stunt. McCain didn’t “suspend” his campaign to tackle the financial crisis. He just claimed that’s what he was doing, then used that claim to campaign about what a great leader he is for suspending his campaign.
McCain’s “come together” moment also seems to have infused with partisanship the bailout negotiations that until that point had been pretty bipartisan (though barreling toward a potentially disastrous consensus). Once McCain arrived, the negotiations soured, as both sides then become conscious of how their positions might be spun and interpreted in light of McCain’s posturing.
Oddly, if McCain’s clumsy politics ends up inadvertently scuttling the bailout, it may well end up doing more for the cause of limited government than anything he has ever done intentionally.