Opinion seems mixed on McCain’s decision to temporarily suspend his campaign and return to DC. I think McCain’s critics are missing the point.
In light of the most recent news, with Obama joining him in DC, I think McCain was angling for pretty much the result we just got, though it was quite a gamble. Despite their initial burst of bipartisan panic, the Democrats, in their position of control, have done nothing but hang back and wait for some political advantage to use against the Republicans. I think the Democrats did, in fact, want to force McCain to publicly approve or reject the plan so they’d be able to use the bailout as a political weapon. They might have even rejected it entirely if they thought it’d win the election. I think McCain saw this as playing brinksmanship with the economy, and decided that drastic action needed to be taken to break the deadlock before momentum was lost and the economy suffered.
So McCain makes his dramatic announcement and persuades Bush call Obama back to DC. Obama stuck with goin on record at the same time as McCain, and they’re now bound to get something done despite the reluctance of their respective party leaders. Both parties now have symbolic cover for whatever blame/credit there is to go around. And a bailout plan of some sort gets passed, which is what McCain really cares about.
I wrote the above as a comment on this post over at The Anchoress. As I typed it (I’m slow) the Anchoress posted this important update which makes me think that I am on the right track:
I suspect that is exactly correct. Paulson’s not just making up scary stories to frighten us. The rest of the world is getting spooked, and things are much, much closer to real disaster than we know. When the history books are written this may be the economic equivalent of the Cuban Missile Crisis – days away from a terrible fate and the country never even knew. In other words, this isn’t just another campaign issue and can’t be analyzed as such. It’s a national security issue, and McCain does not screw around when it comes to national security. I think he’d gladly sacrifice his campaign if he thought it would save the country. Let’s hope he didn’t have to.