"High Noon" or "Horsefeathers"?
Perhaps I’d underestimated John McCain.
Yesterday, I made fun of McCain's “suspending” his campaign until Congress passed some sort of plan to address the meltdown of our markets. At the time McCain made his announcement, Congress seemed poise to pass a flawed plan which bore some resemblance to the even more flawed proposal put forward by the President.
As negotiations proceeded, leaders from both parties announced that a piece of the action was at hand. Robert Bennett, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee said “I now expect we will indeed have a plan that can pass the House, pass the Senate, be signed by the president." Calling it “one of the most productive sessions” he'd ever seen, Bennett said “we focused on solving the problem, rather than posturing politically.”
John McCain landed in Washington poised to be the rooster claiming credit for the sunrise. To bide his time, McCain put together some meetings, including one with the House Republican leadership. Exactly what occurred at this meeting remains the subject of great speculation.
All that remained was the White House summit and photo-op. But at the White House, House Republican Leader John Boehner made it clear his conference was not on board and would be putting out their own alternative. Questioned by Barack Obama, Boehner was mum on the details.
Throughout the meeting McCain stayed strong and silent, like Gary Cooper (or maybe I mean Harpo Marx).
This presented a problem. With support from Senate Republicans, there were enough votes to bring the bill for a vote in the Senate and pass it. But while the Democrats presumably had the votes in the House, they were unwilling to pass this bastard child of George Bush into law without Republican cover. Everyone would have to take credit or no one would. This was a bill that either needed a thousand fathers or would otherwise remain an orphan. Like in Peter Pan, everyone was required to believe in fairies (please, no Barney Frank jokes).
At first it looked like the House Republican move might have been kabuki. Speaking for the McCain campaign, a press aide, Kimmie Lipscomb said : "We're optimistic that Senator McCain will bring House Republican's on board without driving other parties away, resulting in a successful deal for the American taxpayer."
Was this all a plot to have John McCain claim credit for raising a political Lazarus from the dead?
But later, at a meeting of Congressional Leaders, the other shoe dropped. Alabama Republican Spencer Baucchus dropped off a piece of paper with an outline of an alternative “plan” by House Republicans.
The "plan" was clearly not a negotiating position, because Baucchus made clear he was not authorized to negotiate. It was not even a ransom note, given there was nothing in it to take with any seriousness.
Instead, it was a mantra. Wipe away some boilerplate about accountability and what it said was “More Deregulation and Less Taxes”.
They hadn’t even bothered to write something new; they just opened a book of "Reagan’s Familiar Quotations", ripped out a page and Xeroxed it.
Leave it to the Republicans; however one felt about the somewhat ugly compromise which had been on the table, they had found a way to make it look good by comparison.
Things had spun out of control. Asked by reporters if McCain could help win House Republican votes for the proposed package, Boehner now shrugged and said, "Who knows?"
Well, here’s the latest spin from the “suspended” campaign of Senator McCain.
“At today's cabinet meeting, John McCain did not attack any proposal or endorse any plan. John McCain simply urged that for any proposal to enjoy the confidence of the American people, stressing that all sides would have to cooperate and build a bipartisan consensus for a solution that protects taxpayers….Tomorrow, John McCain will return to Capitol Hill where he will work with all sides to build a bipartisan solution that protects taxpayers and keeps Americans in their homes.”
So John McCain neither supports nor opposes any of these radically different and irreconcilable concepts. He just supports everyone agreeing, and he won’t air his differences with his opponent on national television until everyone agrees.
This is apparently what is known as “leadership.”
So who killed the President’s plan? Colonel Mustard with a lead pipe in the parlor? Senator McCain with a shiv in the backroom? Or John Boehner in the abattoir with a meat ax? (Possibly accidentally, while serving raw red moose meat, fresh killed by Todd and Sarah, to his conference of ideological Neanderthals).
If McCain killed it, what does this say about his leadership? If Boehner and company killed it, what does it say about McCain's ability to lead his own party?
Those guys won’t pass this bill for Bush, and they like him. What makes anyone believe they will do for McCain, who they barely tolerate, what they won’t do for their President?
Or is that the idea?
Damned if I know, but as appealing as it is for me to believe this is a Republican plot, when it come to having answers, right now I’m feeling like Sarah Palin:
“I’ll try to find you some and I’ll being ‘em to ya.”
Post new comment