Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It's not socialism if it's rich white guys on the dole

And that's all I'm going to say about the bailout. Memorable times, kids.

The thing that caught my curiosity about all this is the "suspending my campaign" and "let's delay the debate" business. I've spent more time than I like thinking about this, so let me parse it for you.

The original format for the upcoming presidential debates dictated the first date focus on the economy, and the third (and last) debate focus on foreign policy. Both candidates wanted to switch the order. Obama's reasoning is clear enough. He can afford to be a little creaky in the first debate, because he'll have 40 days and two debates to rebound. You may remember that Bush get crushed in the first debate with Kerry. So he can limp through the foreign policy debate, compensate in the second debate and then bring it home in the final debate on the economy.

And what's McCain's thinking? I'm not positive, but I have a theory. He's juking. If the campaign were to just settle down, Obama would win. He's held a consistent lead in all polls through the summer, and now that the convention bounces are over, Obama is back to a slight-comfortable lead nationally. And that's just the popular vote; the electoral math looks better. Point is, McCain has to keep throwing the campaign around in the hope of shaking things up enough to cause distraction and work off the inevitable bump in the polls. Each time he does something random or "maverick" he gets a little bump. Ideally he needs one of these bumps to coincide with the actual election.

In my mind he should have kept Foreign Policy as the final debate, to maximize the chance the bump will last until election day. What he might be thinking is that if he waits that long for this particular bump, Obama might have built up enough momentum to make that last bump irrelevant. I'm not so sure about that, simply because there hasn't been a lot of movement in the polls in broad terms. But I'm not the guy running, nor am I advising him.

Here's where it gets tricky though. The economy is dominating headlines. No matter what happens at the debate, the economy will still be high up in the media's consciousness on Saturday morning. McCain needs the only issue on the table to be Foreign Policy. In fact, in Obama's statement and news conference, he was already making obvious connections between foreign policy and the economy. It's pretty clear to me that Obama is going to do everything he can to link the two, and that'll be all the easier if the average viewer is sitting at home chewing on headlines like "economic crisis" and "the new depression". So McCain needs to delay the debate. That's my thought anyway.

The other thing that he's doing, and this is pretty obvious, is that he's trying to push the VP debate back. Mini-Bush isn't ready for the bright lights, surprise, and McCain is trying to buy time. I wouldn't be shocked if he does everything he can to get the debate moved to the VP date, the VP debate indefinitely postponed, and then keep postponing it until it can't be rescheduled. It's just not working out for him.

So, in sum: On Wednesday McCain suddenly needs to drop everything and run back to Washington so he can fix the economic situation. That would have been helpful earlier in the week, or last month, or anytime in the last 26 years that he's spent voting against banking regulations and voting for deregulation. Any. Old. Time.


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