Put aside for a moment McCain’s weaker moments including the unconnected mention of ethanol subsidies, an inability to respond to Obama’s claim that he will tax health care and an anemic explanation of his strategy for energy independence and focus on the emergency economic bailout.
It was imperative for McCain to explain that his decision to suspend his campaign was a “country first” decision, but alas he missed the moment.
His short and uninvolved response was uninspiring to his supporters and puzzling to swing voters:
“LEHRER: Are you going to vote for the plan, Senator McCain?MCCAIN: I -- I hope so. And I...LEHRER: As a United States senator...MCCAIN: Sure. But -- but let me -- let me point out, I also warned about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and warned about corporate greed and excess, and CEO pay, and all that. A lot of us saw this train wreck coming…”
What? Is that how he wants to summarize this last week in Washington? Giving credit to everyone’s clairvoyance on this issue? If all the smart people who knew it was coming were working on the problem back in Washington then why did he need to suspend his campaign?
His remarks continued with a very inspirational yet tortuous story of how Eisenhower wrote out two letters before the Normandy invasion and before the viewers knew it the moment had passed.
He not only needed to show that his intentions were pure by returning to Washington to get congress working again, but also that his presence made a substantive difference to the process.
All day Friday we heard Harry Reid talk of how McCain gummed up the works. But McCain still held the all the cards--the debate--a national primetime television audience to show how ridiculously political Reid had been and how he had taken a commanding role in the process.
Instead, the chance to strike was gone and we’re all left wondering why he allowed such a golden opportunity to pass him by.
Sure, McCain later hit the mark on describing his significant international experience and his readiness to be commander-in-chief, but last night he needed to explain his role in the bailout and it was a missed moment for sure.