"Yes We Can" has devolved into "Maybe Not."
The myth of one nation transcending party lines seems, today, rather like the exposure of the emperor's new clothes. No purple states here. Still blue and red.
And why anyone thought unity could be achieved during an election year still eludes me. It's simply not intellectually honest, it might not even be healthy, and it's most certainly not human nature.
Yesterday, our political leaders - who you and I elected into office - announced an agreement "in theory" over the proposed bailout. The market went singing happily on its way. But it all underwent a Chernobyl-esque meltdown last night, turning into a brawl.
On one hand, we have a presidential candidate who is committed to being in Mississippi tonight for a scheduled debate. On the other hand, we have a presidential candidate who has publicly announced he will not be attending the debate unless a negotiation for the financial bail-out has been reached. The former candidate insists the American people want to know what the candidates think during this crisis, that the debate is a priority. The latter candidate has appealed to the former to join him in working in Washington during this crisis.
Here's the deal: it will take a lot - a lot - of people working together to get some kind of bail-out plan passed, not just one Senator of either party. But this situation is financially comparable to when a hurricane is about to make landfall - only for the entire nation. So it is arguable that it is appropriate to suspend campaigning to deal with it, as McCain has done. And keep this in mind, too: McCain's strength is in debating. Obama's weakness is in debating. McCain has every reason to capitalize on the opportunity in Oxford, Mississippi tonight. Obama should have every reason to avoid it. Instead, McCain is in Washington, and Obama is in the South. And the poor networks have no idea if they're airing a live debate tonight or not.
Let's sort this out: McCain is possibly giving up an opportunity to appear well in the debates. Cynics can accuse him of using this situation to show his prowess, but that goes against the statement he issued acknowledging that bipartisan talks at the White House yesterday devolved into a yelling match. Additionally, one can question whether he's doing his duty as a senator, or flexing his muscles to advertise his leadership skills. But it seems unlikely that the public would be more affected by not seeing him - at work in Washington - than by seeing him - in a debate. So it would be poor strategy for him to go to Washington simply to appear noble. The conclusion left, then, is that perhaps he honestly thinks he needs to be there during this crisis. An unusual campaign move, perhaps, but it's an unusual time in our economy.
Now, the Democrats know that McCain has said he won't attend the debate if a negotiation hasn't been reached. So they have the option of working for that negotiation or against it. Well, there are competing motives here: get a solution passed by tonight? Why? McCain will have gone to Washington AND shown up at the debate. Wait for a negotiation til Monday? Then McCain will have missed the debate and Obama can be the one left standing at the podium saying "where's my opponent?"
At this point, I'd like to shout "Time Out!" And I'd like to point my finger, raise my eyebrow, and declare that every bottom sitting in the seats of Congress was placed there by the American people - and if they can't stop acting like Kindergartner's, they'll be removed by the American people. This is not a time to toy with a financial crisis for personal gain. If they fail to address this gaping problem, then perhaps it's time for them to lose their retirement funds, or health insurance. In the famed words of parents everywhere, "I don't care who started it. Finish it!"
For additional coverage, see: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-09-25-bush-candidates-bailout_N.htm