Yesterday Republican presidential nominee John McCain announced he is suspending his campaign in order to return to Washington, D.C. to discuss a solution to the subprime mortgage crisis that has left thousands unemployed, threatened millions of Americans with home foreclosure, and thrown financial markets into panic. Should the first scheduled presidential debate be postponed while lawmakers address the crisis, as McCain suggested?
Supporters of John McCain are calling his decision to leave the campaign trail and cancel tomorrow night’s debate in order to focus on the financial crisis an example of his maturity and selflessness. “There goes John McCain, putting his country first again,” I’ve heard many people say.
This couldn’t possibly be a great big ploy to get out of the debate, could it?
I wouldn’t say that McCain is afraid to debate Obama. Afterall, he spent most of the summer begging Obama to meet him for joint town hall meetings, and he suggested that they make their appearances at Rick Warren’s presidential forum a few weeks ago together instead of one at a time. No, I just think McCain’s not an idiot. He’s catching on. A few months ago, Obama was leading in the polls; now it’s a dead heat. Not having debates is working for McCain (that, and choosing a moose-hunting Christian fundamentalist aspiring book burner as his running mate), so why fix what ain’t broke?
He couldn’t just come out and announce that he’d changed his mind about the debates and would really rather not, thank you; lucky for McCain, the American financial industry collapsed, allowing him to pull out of the first debate in order to devote his full attention to this urgent crisis.
There’s a great American tradition of suspending presidential campaigns in the wake of national crises going all the way back to the election of 1864. That’s when President Abraham Lincoln called his Democratic opponent General George McClellan and announced that he was withdrawing from the campaign in order to focus on winning the Civil War.
Wait a second, what’s that you say? That never happened? I’ll be . . .
It’s such a stunt, I’m surprised anyone not on McCain’s payroll is even trying to claim otherwise. But as stunts go, it’s a great one — not only does it once again make McCain the heroic old war horse, but it distracts us all from the fact that he supports Treasury Secretary Paulson’s plan to solve the crisis by appointing himself Fuhrer.
Good for John McCain, suspending his campaign and pulling out of the debate so he can stop the Great Depression from happening again! Barack Obama is just jealous he didn’t think of it first. Imagine the nerve on that guy, wanting himself and his opponent to participate in a ninety-minute debate in the midst of this unprecedented catastrophe. They’re both senators! That’d be two out of a hundred senators not helping to fix things. That’s . . . what percentage would that be?
Seriously. Is it four percent?
Anyway. McCain is a real American and he’s gonna skip the debate in order to fix this crisis (which I still don’t really understand — can someone tell me what actually happened and why it’s so bad? All I keep hearing is how the entire world is teetering on the brink of collapse). Obama says the debate’s still on. But if McCain doesn’t show up, who’s he going to debate? Is it just going to be an hour and a half of Obama getting chatted up by Jim Lehrer? “Hey, I heard you used to work at a bus station.” “Hey, I heard you were a mulatto.” That sounds exciting. I have a better idea.
Let Obama debate Sarah Palin. I know it sounds nuts — Palin’s not even running for president. And yes, I’m still a little pissed that McCain didn’t pick Dan Quayle as I suggested, but I’m prepared to let bygones be bygones. Anyway . . . yes, Palin is not the presidential candidate. But filling in for McCain at the debate would be good practice for her. Isn’t stepping in for the president the dream of every V.P.? Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s what she’s there for, right? She’s the back-up president.
She wouldn’t be permanently replacing McCain at the top of the ticket, just subbing for him while he’s in Washington saving your children’s futures. It’d be like when a soap opera actor gets sick and some totally different person steps in and plays their role for a day. Obama could even address her as “Senator McCain” if he wanted, if that would help things run smoother. Then, once everything is resolved as far as whatever’s happening on Wall Street, McCain can come back and do the second debate, and reference the first one as though he was actually there instead of Palin, just so no one gets confused and thinks Palin was running for president for a few days instead of him.
This is a great plan. We get to have debates, McCain gets to do his Teddy Roosevelt thing, and if they go by soap opera rules, they won’t even need to make Palin up to look like McCain. All she has to do is say his lines. So she’ll have to reluctantly reflect on her P.O.W. experience, and shut up about her mongoloid baby for ninety goddamn minutes. I think we can all live with that.