After spending Thursday morning behind closed doors, senior lawmakers from both parties emerged shortly before 1 p.m. in the ornate painted corridors on the first floor of the Capitol to herald their agreement on the broad outlines of a deal....And McCain "declined to take a stand."
But a few blocks away, a senior House Republican lawmaker was at a luncheon with reporters, saying his caucus would never go along with the deal. This Republican said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the chief deputy whip, was circulating an alternative course that would rely on government-backed insurance, not taxpayer-financed purchase of mortgage assets....
House Republicans have spent days expressing their unease about a huge government intervention, which they regard as a step down the path to socialism.
Why did McCain arrive showily, as if he was the man to close the deal, and then not do anything? Has McCain said one word about whether he thinks now is the time to build a bulwark against socialism? And can John McCain explain why government insurance as opposed to government asset-purchasing is the key to saving us from socialism?
Unless McCain talks about some of these things, I don't see the point of his swooping onto the scene to be the leader. Was he just betting that it would look good? But why should he have counted on Democrats allowing him to look good? And, insanely, it seems that Republicans have undercut him.
Belatedly, he must realize that it would have been better to take a low profile and let his congressional colleagues steer their deal to a conclusion -- which is what Barack Obama did.
And then there's the debate. Obama will be there, winning by forfeiture, unless McCain's ultimatum -- he can't debate unless the deal is closed -- was a bluff.