ABC Panel Tears Into McCain: Not Presidential, Age Should Be An Issue

10/22/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

For John McCain, the panel discussion on This Week with George Stephanopoulos could not have been more brutal.

Minutes after conservative columnist George Will declared that the Senator was decidedly un-presidential is his unexpected call for the firing of SEC Chairman Chris Cox, Sam Donaldson, the long-time ABC hand, said that McCain's erratic message on the economy again raised questions about his age.

"I suppose the McCain campaign's hope is that when there's a big crisis, people will go for age and experience," said Will. "The question is, who in this crisis looked more presidential, calm and un-flustered? It wasn't John McCain who, as usual, substituting vehemence for coherence, said 'let's fire somebody.' And picked one of the most experienced and conservative people in the administration, Chris Cox, and for no apparent reason... It was un-presidential behavior by a presidential candidate."

Donaldson then jumped in: "It was two days after the he said the fundamentals of the economy were strong. His talking points have gotten all mixed up. And I think the question of age is back on the table."

It should be noted that McCain's call for the firing of Cox was dismissed right off the bat, as the president does not have the authority to axe an SEC chairman. The criticisms that Donaldson raised concerned the fact that McCain started the week by touting the fundamentals of the economy, before pivoting into fits of populist mantra and calling for increased regulation of the markets - position at odds with McCain's traditional economic philosophies.

"When I say age," he explained, "I don't know the difference between finding your talking points and not delivering the right ones, we have seen him do this frequently but this last week was the worst. Between two stops in Florida, as you say, he had to revise his thinking about what he wanted to say about the economy, wanted to feel the pain suddenly than say everything is great."

The whole, painful, episode crested with Will leveling an even harsher blow.

"John McCain showed his personality this week," said the writer and pundit, "and made some of us fearful."