The roller-coaster ride that is the US presidential campaign morphed from critical mass at the collapse of major banks to meltdown when Wall Street met Washington in the salon of lame duck President George W. Bush. Yesterday's crisis meeting swiftly imploded following the verbal equivalent of political suicide by Senator John McCain.
In what will be regarded as the final substantive meeting of the historic Bush presidency, the mushrooming financial debacle triggered a divisive schism that ripped the Republican Party asunder leaving two warring camps: the plutocratic elite who favor the 700 billion dollar bailout with tighter regulation of the financial marketplace and the evangelical fundamentalists who favor no-holds-barred laissez faire capitalism in the grand old style of their favorite presidents: Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.
Over the past few days, John McCain's presidential campaign convulsed into a horrifying rictus, uttering a series of contradictory statements that first led to what was heralded as their suspension of political operations followed swiftly by the candidate's mystifying moves in Congress and his suicidal coup de grace at the fateful meeting in the White House where he sought the comforting final solution of a political meltdown. Today, a mere forty days before the election, in high pomp McCain has now willingly donned the robes and assumed the tragic role of Herbert Hoover the Second.
In the high drama of yesterday's presidential command performance in the panic stricken White House, John McCain remained mysteriously silent while Paulson, Bernanke and Cox engaged with the Congressional leaders, Pelosi, Boehner, Reid and McConnell, as well as George W. Bush and Barack Obama. While the others discussed the proposed bailout bill and the nonpartisan response to the expanding crisis, McCain appeared to be listening in awestruck silence.
When Obama addressed the evolving situation and the political compromise that was the sole item of business, he graciously invited McCain to provide his learned opinion. Prodded thus, McCain emerged from his stony silence, as he attempted to rise to the occasion. However, McCain's long-awaited response fell flat for he articulated what has been described as a brief but meandering message with all of the clarity of an obscure pronouncement from an ancient oracle that reminded some of the errant school-boy who had not done his homework but who was afraid to admit it.
At that point, rather than calling on McCain to clarify what had become painfully obvious he was incapable of clarifying, Obama called on Secretary of the Treasury Paulson to respond to McCain's verbal miasma. Rising to his occasion, Paulson stated bluntly that McCain's observations were not workable. Having fallen totally apart, the crucial meeting designed to engineer a bipartisan deal adjourned with the crisis unresolved and everyone in America wondering whether John McCain would turn up at tonight's highly vaunted debate in Oxford, Mississippi.
Tonight's debate is scheduled to take place on the campus of "Ole Miss," an ironclad stronghold of the GOP that has become a surreal political landscape over the past few days following John McCain's shrill urgings to cancel the highly anticipated event. Deeply conservative and devoutly Republican students carried placards urging John McCain to honor his word and debate his nemesis, Barack Obama. The outcome of the Ole Miss debate still hangs in the balance, but Obama has made it clear that he will be there to face McCain whether McCain is willing to face him -- or not.
It is now written that in the final days of the Bush presidency, the GOP suffered a massive coronary, a grand mal seizure, an acute mental breakdown that has left the party on a deplorable bucket list of bi-polar limbo craving a fix in the form of a massive bailout for its plutocratic elite that is being repudiated as one lobotomy too many by its laissez faire and devil-may-care grassroots fundamentalists of free market capitalism.
Amazingly, many Republicans still cannot see the rotting corpse of free market fundamentalism even though it is now entering their 401Ks, their IRAs and the latest statement from their stockbrokers. Shocked and horrified, the theological Republican fundamentalists refuse to see the horror for the trees -- but they have John McCain to comfort them while they march onward over the edge of the abyss and into the folly of economic freefall from 100,000 feet without a financial parachute in sight.
The plutocratic Republicans are demanding a hasty and massive dollop of socialism for the rich while the laissez faire entrepreneurial market fundamentalists would prefer to see a financial meltdown and a bonfire of their securities.
Bush's ownership society lies in ruins at his feet as he staggers his way through the filthy debris of his radical presidency while the political corpse of Citizen McCain croaks, "Rosebud," and twists slowly, slowly in the winds of change -- five points down and falling.