When John McCain announced yesterday that he was suspending his campaign to help everyone solve the economy, and inviting Barack Obama to do the same, I must admit -- at first, I tried to think unconventionally, and I allowed myself to consider whether McCain's gesture, while almost certainly quixotic, might be sincere. Of course, soon after, I peeped the tick-tock, and learned that it originated with Obama encouraging a joint statement on the matter. For his trouble, Obama and his campaign basically got blindsided by this "suspension" maneuver. This is apparent on its face, and really should quash any suspicion that McCain's decision to suspend his campaign and inject himself into the bailout proceedings was some sort of "Country First," non-political gesture.
Of course, another clear sign that this campaign suspension is pure bunk is the fact that no suspending of the campaign has actually occurred! As documented on last night's Late Show With David Letterman, McCain's hasty exit didn't find the candidate beating a path to the halls of power, to lay hands on the nation's economy. His next stop was to sit down with Katie Couric, after which, he went...nowhere? You know, despite all the danger the country was in. Today, his surrogates have been out on teevee, in clear contravention of the suspension order. Nicolle Wallace and Tucker Bounds both appeared on MSNBC, sandwiching themselves around a campaign appearance McCain made himself at the Clinton Global Initiative. Meanwhile, at 10:00 am this morning, the actual leaders on this matter began their actual work on the bailout package. It's fair to say that they've already outpaced all of McCain's contributions on the bailout matter, even if we include the lovely set of talking points his campaign drew up for campaign volunteers to use in discussion -- you know, the campaign volunteers whose activities are supposed to have been, uhm...suspended.
But McCain is an honorable man, after all, and he is, at some point, coming to Washington, at President Bush's behest, not in pursuit of personal ambition, but of Solutions for America, right? Right? At AMERICAblog, Joe Sudbay notes that today's schedule of events casts doubt on this contention:
At 4:00 p.m., (ABC News reported via email) George Bush, whose approval rating on the economy is at 16% with a 76% disapproval, will be hosting the White House photo-op (that's what Barney Frank is calling it). John McCain will be there for that session.
Let's be clear: McCain will miss the meeting about substance. But, McCain will be there for the grandstanding.
Where, exactly, is this suspension of campaigning?