Friday, 26 September 2008

It's the economy, stupid

Two big things going on in the US right now. One, Financial Armageddon. Two, the never-ending quest to pick the next LOTFW™. But from the right perspective, of course, they're one and the same.

Via Freemania, John McCain has taken the "historic step" of suspending his own campaign in order to go to Washington and sort this whole mess out. Moreover, he invited Obama to do the same.

From a "politics as running the country" perspective, this has potential. Whoever gets elected will have to deal with this mess, so it's as well that they should get some input now. The simple symbolism of making a deal a priority might well be a kick up the arse for heel-draggers.

From a "politics as getting elected" perspective, it probably looked even better. McCain was down in the polls again, and there was some suggestion that voters trusted Obama more on the economy. (Naturally enough, given that McCain has publically said that he doesn't understand economics.) Suspending his campaign demonstrates, one can only suppose, his willingness to put country ahead of party, his leadership skills, and his commitment to a better, stronger America. Also, as chance would have it, the proposed suspension of his campaign would entail the cancellation/postponement of his first debate with Obama - an event generally held to play to the Democrat's strength, not McCain's.

But it's a gamble. And for it to pay off, you need to make sure you tick a couple of boxes:

1) If you're going to showcase yourself as the one man who can save the negotiations, make sure there's not a deal on the table before you get there.

2) If you're going to showcase yourself as the one man who can save the negotiations, make sure there's still a deal on the table after you get there.

3) If you're campaign talking point is that you're pro-regulation, don't propose cutting regulation.

4) If you announce you're dropping a scheduled TV appearance to rush back to Washington, do actually rush back to Washington, rather than going to the studio next door. (Skip to 6:38)

5) If you're going to get a debate cancelled, make sure your opponent won't go ahead without you.

UPDATE: Having said that he wouldn't debate unless there was a deal, McCain has now announced he'll be at the debate. There's no deal.

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