In addition to being a stunt, a ploy, and another bit of grandstanding political theater we can apparently now rely upon John McCain to provide, there is one more aspect of this decision (to briefly suspend his campaign in the face of the nation’s financial crisis) that no one seems to have touched upon, and that is what an extraordinary, downright open, confession it is of the insulting manner in which the Republican nominee has gone about campaigning to this point.
While I don’t for a second concede that he actually has suspended his campaign, I merely note that in pretending to do so, he is as much as saying, “I find this crisis to be so dire, I have determined that this is no time for the kind of bullsh*t that I have been engaged in on a daily basis for the last two months.”
Given the sort of campaign that McCain has run – juvenile, aimless, deeply cynical, and deceitful – he’s actually quite right. Comparing Obama to Charlton Heston or the Jonas brothers, telling lies about his policy proposals, or portraying him as a latent pedophile, just wouldn’t go down well in the current climate. We’re not in the mood. It’s not as cute as it was ten days ago.
If on the other hand, one had approached his or her presidential run as an opportunity to dialogue with the American people about all the most pressing matters that currently face us as a nation – a way of airing positions and proposing your own solutions – well, then it wouldn't occur to you to “suspend” your campaign in the face of a big crisis. You would want to ratchet it up and to take advantage of the heightened focus that the crisis has brought to bear upon your nomination, and the fact that we are all presently looking for the person who will inherit this crisis, among others.
And obviously all the same things can be said of McCain's suggestion that the debate be put off. Does he mean, until such time as we’re all comfortable going back to hearing substanceless, canned answers to questions that have nothing to do with anything? Then perhaps he’s right, we should wait a week or two, and keep our fingers crossed that nothing meaningful or foreboding happens in the mean time.
If on the other hand, one approached a presidential debate as an opportunity to…well, I’m not even going to finish the thought, it’s too obvious, and too sad that it has to be said. The point is, McCain admitted to us yesterday that he knows that his campaign is an unworthy thing, the apparent equivalent of Bush’s golf-game: an unbecoming and impolitic display in a time of national crisis.