The Blogospheres was abuzz yesterday with discussions of John McCain's self-declared "suspension" of his campaign, which he appears to be honoring more in the breach than in the observance.
The Republican Presidential candidate announced the suspension Wednesday, issued a press release indicating that fundraising and advertising activities also would be suspended, and reinforced his "stand-down" Thursday morning in nobly patriotic terms:
"I cannot carry on a campaign as though this dangerous situation had not occurred, or as though a solution were at hand, which it clearly is not. As of this morning I suspended my political campaign. With so much on the line, for America and the world, the debate that matters most right now is taking place in the United States Capitol."
Since then, as numerous commentators (and here too) have noted, the McCain campaign has been running close to full-bore, including maintaining a live fundraising link on his website, keeping campaign offices open, continuing to run campaign ads on TV and radio (pulling them once placed is difficult, but that being the case, why promise to do so?), and continued Internet advertising. The campaigning also included a meeting between the lobbyist who manages McCain's campaign and a group of wealthy contributors at a posh New York restaurant, a McCain speech about world poverty and environmental challenges that contained at least 50% post-consumer recycled stump speech, bringing a campaign adviser instead of a Senate staffer to a bailout meeting at the White House (Obama brought an expert aide unrelated to his campaign), Sarah Palin (who also promised to suspend) holding a rally at an airport, McCain surrogates on every cable channel, and McCain himself scheduled to appear on all three networks
But this isn't the first time McCain has promised to refrain from campaigning, only to break his word; he did so spectacularly on August 28th of this year, when Obama was about to become the first African-American to receive a major party's nomination for President on, of all days, the 45th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. That evening, McCain promised in a prime-time advertisement:
"Senator Obama, this is truly a good day for America. You know, too often the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed. So I wanted to stop and say, 'congratulations.' How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day. Tomorrow we'll be back at it. But tonight, Senator: a job well done."
But McCain's courteous and statesmanlike gesture lasted only a few hours. While the fireworks were still exploding above the heads of Obama and his family on the stage at Denver's Invesco Field, the McCain campaign issued a massive attack-style press release -- the longest ever sent during this entire campaign, so far as I can tell -- that began:
Tonight, Americans witnessed a misleading speech that was so fundamentally at odds with the meager record of Barack Obama [sic]. When the temple comes down, the fireworks end, and the words are over, the facts remain: Senator Obama still has no record of bipartisanship, still opposes offshore drilling, still voted to raise taxes..., and still voted against funds for American troops in harm's way. The fact remains: Barack Obama is still not ready to be President.
Full story and reproduction of the entire press release here.
So when I read that McCain's "suspended" campaign day looks eerily similar to every other day -- when I see McCain clearly campaigning like mad after promising to refrain from doing so -- I say to myself, a little sadly:
Same old John McCain.