Thursday, September 25, 2008

Credit Where Credit Isn't Due: McCain and Bush's Kabuki Theatre

Now we know why McCain hired the Bush contingent.

It emerged in the White House briefing today that McCain called Bush and asked him to initiate a meeting today at the White House, putatively for him to "deal with" the crisis.

That is, McCain asked Bush to help him create an trifecta: To try to lend some credence to McCain's desperate assertion that a suspension of his campaign is necessary, in effect either avoiding a debate in which he would face critical questions about his stance on the economy or marching in claiming "victory"; attempting to co opt the financial crisis thereby trying to put an end to his plummeting in the polls created by his flailing positions on the economy--perhaps best reflected by his statement days ago that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong"; and, while avoiding his own debate, also buying more time for Sarah Palin after her embarrassing photo op at the UN yesterday, by moving her debate forward as well.

Here's how it happened, according to Q and A at the WHB:

McCain emailed Bush asking for the meeting. Now, one reasonably might ask, why is today such a necessity for McCain, if his interest is solely the national good?

Because it is before the debate. McCain hopes to stage a meeting at the White House, thereby, with Bush's cooperation, lending plausibility to his claim to need to suspend his campaign. Then, if Republicans, in their own electoral interest, can be persuaded to come to agreement after the meeting, and before the debate, he would claim--in an act of utter stage management--to have "resolved" the crisis. Thereby hoping to take the heat off on his past careening stances and sliding polls and staunch the bleeding on the polls--before the debate.

This is Kabuki Theatre masquerading as substance--no different than what we saw at the U.N. yesterday.

It is utterly stage managed, utterly cynical, and utterly unrelated to the substantive deliberation necessary to actually resolve these matters on the merits and for our nation's future, rather than for short-term and desperate political advantage.

These occurrences are equally important for what they indicate about McCain's governing style as they are for their impact upon democratic process: impulsive acts that rely on drama and theatrical posture rather than substantive reasoning and long-term deliberation; a strong willingness to sacrifice substantive reasoning, deliberative process, and even prior structures and agreements to immediate political need; an attempt to reach outcomes through last minute stage management rather than substantive argument.

These should create deep concern for anyone who wishes for a change in governmental process from the past eight years.

We have an economy, rather than a campaign, to rescue. Putting nation before politics means putting all attempts to resolve it before political attempts to co opt it--and to move towards one's commitments, rather than towards a more immediate and short-term salvation.

UPDATE: He apparently plans to claim "victory" due to his last minute intervention.