I do blame McCain for his puerile histrionics and for dragging this issue--which should have been above partisanship--into presidential politics. Let's make no mistake about it: his various gimmicks had absolutely nothing to do with the substance of the issue. He doesn't know all that much about the substance of the issue. The gimmicks were a failed attempt to make it seem as if he had powers, and knowledge, he didn't have. Clearly, he was in a more difficult position than Obama--the populist conservative wing of House Republicans was unwilling to take responsibility for the fruits of the deregulation that they promoted--and that might have required a more aggressive effort to move votes on his part, but the flailing about only confused Republicans (was he for, was he against?) and made matters worse.
Prediction: Voting against this thing is not going to be the political winner that some have speculated opposition would be. Already, there is evidence that the plan was becoming more popular. And expect support to rise further now that the economy will be in even more dire straits.
As for McCain, this is very, very bad news. He failed to convert the House GOP, and the stock market is in a tailspin.
House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) just went off on the GOP in general and Minority Leader John Boehner in particular.
"I guess the Republican leadership is so weak, John Boehner couldn't deliver 50 percent of the votes. I thought these were big boys," he said.
So if McCain wanted credit for passage, should he share some of the blame for its defeat?
Two thirds of half Republicans voted for its defeat...after a weekend of telephone call diplomacy from McCain.
Nancy Pelosi may have given a partisan speech, but she was able to get most of her Democrats on board....
"Barack Obama failed to lead, phoned it in, attacked John McCain, and refused to even say if he supported the final bill. Just before the vote, when the outcome was still in doubt, Speaker Pelosi gave a strongly worded partisan speech and poisoned the outcome. This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country."
"I read the other day that Senator McCain likes to gamble," Obama said. "He likes to roll those dice. And that's ok. I have a little confession, I enjoy a little friendly game of poker myself every now and then.
"But one thing I know is this - we can't afford to gamble on four more years of the same disastrous economic policies we've had for the last eight."
It's no coincidence then that of the 205 Members who voted in support of the bill today, there are only two -- Reps. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) and Jon Porter (R-Nev.) -- who find themselves in difficult reelection races this fall. The list of the 228 "nays" reads like a virtual target list for the two parties.
He should come back to D.C. But this time he needs to take charge--either by laying out the outlines of his own plan, or presiding over meetings at which a real plan that can pass is cobbled together. He might also insist on the immediate passage of a couple of provisions (raising or removing FDIC insurance limits, for example) that could mitigate the damage that could be done over the next few days.