The point of John McCain’s coming back to Washington was for him to show leadership during a crisis, but McCain’s return has revealed him to be unable to lead. Even more damning, the Republican presidential candidate has not even taken a position on the issue of a federal bailout for Wall Street.
McCain has opened himself up to a round of criticism on both sides. The House Republicans who are trying to kill the bill would nothing more than for McCain to either lead their cause, or offer an alternative of his own, but he has done neither. His own Senate Republicans are already on board with the plan, so they don’t need his input. The bill has bipartisan support without him. Not even the largest bank failure in American history can move John McCain to take a public stand on the issue.
Let me be clear, I don’t care what position John McCain takes. If he really is a leader, then he needs to lead. President Bush has been doing his best to keep the markets afloat by promising that a package will be passed, but it appears that all John McCain has done is get in the way. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said this morning that President Bush should, “respectfully tell Sen. McCain to get out of town. He is not helping, he is harming. Before Sen. McCain made his announcement, we were making progress.”
The problem McCain faces is in part the institutional barrier between the House and Senate. McCain may be the leader of his party, but he is also a senator, and senators have little influence on the other side of the Hill. McCain did meet with Republican Minority Leader John Boehner this morning, but it is uncertain if he is leading an effort, proposing an alternative, or getting updates on the situation.
My guess is that if McCain had an alternative, he would be talking about it.
McCain’s position is confusing, incoherent, and largely unknown. He has shifted his position on the economy and the bailout at least 5 times in the past 10 days.
He is not exhibiting presidential leadership. He has the look of a candidate caught in a trap of his own making. McCain is going to Mississippi tonight, and we have a presidential debate, but I doubt that McCain will announce a clear position on the issue. Instead of making him look like a leader, McCain latest gamble may have cost him this election.
Interestingly, the only people who can save John McCain from his horrible strategic blunder are the House Republicans who have shown little interest in helping their own president over the last five years, much less a senator who happens to be their current nominee.
Who would have guessed on Monday that the fate of John McCain’s campaign may be in the hands of a group of Republican ideologues? McCain put himself in this mess and he has no clue how to get himself out. We have seen this type behavior out of our current president for five years. I don’t think we need to see it for another four.