McCain Is Not Ready For Prime-time

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[Publisher's Commentary: On The Presidential Debate]


John McCain says the debate should be postponed so the presidential candidates can address the meltdown on Wall Street and its adverse impact on the U.S. and global economy.

Why didn’t McCain make this suggestion several weeks ago, or even last week? Where has he been? Is he just realizing that the country is in the midst of an economic and financial crisis? Perhaps not; just a few days ago he famously declared that the country’s economy was “fundamentally sound.”

His mind might be fundamentally unsound.

He is, after all, the same man who, a few weeks ago, conceded that he did not know how many homes he owned –seven by the way; and nearly all are valued at more than a million dollars each— even as millions of main street Americans were losing their homes.

Senator McCain is in a world of his own. He only just yesterday appreciated the magnitude of the financial crisis and suddenly decided to “suspend” his campaigning?

The government is debating a $700 billion “rescue” package that analysts believe may balloon to more than $1 trillion. McCain said he wanted to rush to Washington, D.C., and to be there and to help broker a rescue package for  the ailing economy.

This is a very odd and scary offer, coming from a man who has previously boasted that he knows nothing about the economy.  Is McCain trying to cause more panic on Wall Street?

Experts in economics and finance are already engaged in the meticulous negotiations required to determine how much financing should be injected into the economy;  the opportunity cost of such financing;  the estimated time period for the program to have impact;  the necessary oversight over the acquisition of the ailing companies' distressed assets; the long term cost; and, the monitoring of the disbursement of massive funds.

What role could Senator McCain play in such negotiations?

It’s one thing for McCain to remind the nation, as he does almost everyday,  that he’s a “maverick” –which is debatable—and a brave man who served the country at a time of war, which is true. That’s fine and well.

It does not mean that a brave ex-soldier is good at everything. Most people would prefer a trained surgeon to perform heart surgery; it’s reasonable to expect that people would rather have people with some economic and financial expertise to handle the Wall Street meltdown.

What politicians, as elected representatives, can do, is insist on oversight.

Moreover, the timing of McCain’s “suspension” of his campaign and his request that the Friday presidential debate be postponed is more than highly suspicious; coming some 48 hours before the debate.

Yesterday,  McCain reportedly held a debate rehearsal.  So, what happened between the time of the rehearsal in the afternoon, and the time when he announced his decision to “suspend” his campaign?

Might it be that his rehearsal was underwhelming?

Is it also a coincidence that Mr. “Straight Talk” pulled this gimmick at precisely the time that Senator Barack Obama is creating some separation in the polls? And at a time when his running mate, Sarah Palin, under scrutiny, is confirming the nation’s worst fears, that she is not qualified to be a heartbeat away from the nuclear button? McCain may be hoping that cancellation of the presidential debate would push the vice presidential debates beyond the October 2 date. But Palin needs at least 10 years to prepare for Senator Joseph Biden.

It just doesn’t look good at all.

In fact, rather than postpone the debate, the stronger argument would have been to change the focus to the economy, given the recent downturn.

Finally, the nation wants a commander in chief who is calm, rational, and articulate; a president who can deal with multiple crises.

What would happen if the country faced multiple onslaughts  –such as a terrorist attack in the midst of a financial meltdown—under a McCain Administration? Would President McCain say let’s deal with one crisis before tackling the other?

McCain’s actions tell the nation that he’s simply not ready for prime time.

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