On the heels of his drop in the polls and on the cusp of televised questions and answers, Senator McCain has decided that it's best to "suspend" his campaign and cancel a debate with Senator Obama. Is McCain's suspension a gimmick to join the no-tough-questions, photo-op-only status enjoyed by his running mate or a good faith leadership attempt to negotiate a solution to the mortgage crisis?
By "suspending" the campaign does Senator McCain mean he will pull the TV ad blaming Senator Obama for the Fannie/Freddie problem without disclosing that McCain's campaign manager's firm makes $15,000 a month from Freddie? That suspension is most welcome but highly unlikely.
By ditching the debate, does Senator McCain mean he doesn't want to publicly express his views on the economy (and answer for distortions like the Fannie/Freddie ad)? Now more than ever is the time for the American people to see which direction each candidate would take the economy and the country.
If there is anything we have learned over the nearly 8 years of the Bush administration and the last 8 months of the Presidential campaign, it's that the American people are intensely skeptical about top-down directives imposed under "emergency" circumstances and demand bottom-up solutions to stipulated facts. In this case, they demand a consumer-driven solution to the Wall Street mortgage meltdown rather than the same old top-down CEO-driven practices that led to these problems in the first place. To that end, before investing our life savings to salvage our life savings, we need more answers, not fewer, on the alleged WMDs of Wall Street threatening our economic well-being.
Who better than aspiring Presidents Obama and McCain to publicly explain the facts underlying the emergency, the basis for the $700 billion number (or any other number), and the case already pushed by Senator Obama for a bipartisan consensus that helps Main Street, curbs CEO excesses, and makes the actions and the actors accountable to the American people? And if Senators McCain and Obama end up agreeing in public so much the better.
Now would be an excellent time for a forgotten ritual for the McCain campaign - a live news conference with questions and answers on these questions. Then, debate or not, if indeed an economic summit is convened it should be substantive, televised, and followed by a second news conference with real-life questions and answers.
Avoiding our questions won't make them go away; indeed it only raises more.
Over to you, straight talk express.