Shortly after House Republicans killed the financial bailout bill today, a Democratic friend sarcastically asked if John McCain was going to re-suspend his campaign and return to Washington, now that there’s a real crisis.
Now comes Bill Kristol to argue that McCain should do exactly that:
No one wants to take ownership of the task of rescuing the economy right now. The Bush-Paulson plan has failed. The administration, House Democrats, and House Republicans (above all) have all proved unable to deliver. But there is someone who might be able to save the economy–and incidentally the Republican party: John McCain.
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.
In other words: since the trick didn’t work first time around, why not try it again? Hell, if he timed it right, McCain might be able to get Sarah Palin out of her Thursday debate with Joe Biden!
Here’s the witty reaction of honest conservative Ross Douthat to this bright idea:
Per Kristol: John McCain flies back to Washington and finds a way to get the bailout passed. The markets recover; the papers trumpet McCain’s heroism, and he’s elected by a thin margin in November.
Unfortunately, I’d place the odds against this happening at roughly – oh, what the hell, I’ll just choose a really large number at random – seven hundred billion to one.
But Ross isn’t in a terribly positive mood about any GOP tactics today. In an earlier post, he said this:
The most likely scenario, as of 3 PM this afternoon: The stock market continues to drop. Some version of the bailout passes in the next week. The American economy staggers into a recession, but passes through the storm without 1930s-style suffering; the Republican Party is not so fortunate. Even though most Americans claim to oppose the bailout, the House GOP’s obstructionism is widely viewed as having worsened the economic situation; the fact that these are contradictory positions does not faze an electorate that wraps all of the country’s current troubles up, ties them with a bow, and lays them at the feet of the Bush-led GOP. John McCain loses by a landslide in November. The Democratic Party regains years or even decades worth of ground among the white working class, consolidates the Hispanic vote, and locks up a large chunk of highly-educated voters who might otherwise lean conservative. The much-discussed liberal realignment happens. And a politician running on a Ron Paul-style economic platform does very, very well in the GOP primaries of 2012.
He also notes that public opinion began to turn in favor of the bailout over the weekend. D’ya think a 777-point drop in the Dow might accelerate that trend?
Maybe Barack Obama should come back to Washington and talk to a few folks, or maybe Democrats should try to put together a bill that would pass with just a few Republican votes. McCain’s had his chance. He failed, while trying to take credit for light duty on what he thought would be a successful vote. He doesn’t deserve a second chance to play Americans for fools.