Thursday, September 25, 2008

NewsWatch 9.25.08

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Trends and Tremors
Will it work or will it backfire? I wish I could fast-forward to answer that question with some polling numbers. For now, McCain's hail mary seems to have had little effect on the immediate numbers.

For my take on where this development will trend, I look at the basic facts of the current reaction and some tidbits from today's news.

First, it seems like lawmakers have already reached an agreement on the basics of the bailout (or have they? keep reading), and by and large, the agreement follows what Obama's been calling for: a bailout with caveats. These include CEO oversight, some consumer foreclosure protection, and the ability for the treasury to take a stake in the companies they help.

Second, let's look at the media reaction we've seen so far. On the whole, it's been mixed, but definitely not positive. David Letterman was among the most negative, and as Z on TV points out, his sharp and witty criticisms could be devastating:

"Letterman's constant refrain last night: "You don't just susepnd your campaign." And I think it was devastating. It became a litany and punchline of ridicule. And then, Letterman really turned the knife when he followed it by asking if McCain would just suspend the presidency one day if he were president, and then said, oh wait, we already have a president like that. All the rhetoric and ads trying to tie McCain to Bush are nothing compared to the impact of a clever punchline like that on a network show."
Third, what will bubble up in the public consciousness today? Among all the reporting that's been done, a few consistent points crop up in my mind. From the Detroit Free Press:
McCain, who said Wednesday he was suspending his campaign to focus on the financial crisis, did not arrive into Washington until midday. On Wednesday, the McCain and Obama campaigns released a joint statement addressing the crisis, but McCain rejected a call from Obama to support the principles that lawmakers agreed to today.
McCain wasn't even in town when this deal happened, he was in New York lying to David Letterman, talking to Katie Couric and later speaking to a foundation. But it gets worse.

Turns out, McCain may have actually caused the entire debate to stall! Earlier today he was still undecided on the the bailout, even as bi-partisanship prevailed in Washington. Now, after all the news that a compromise may have been reached, the latest reports have it that McCain is supporting a totally different plan than the one going through congress, and that this could put a halt to the entire process.

So after it looked like an agreement was being reached and the debate might happen tomorrow as planned, McCain actually got in the way of the agreement, which is now stalled? Is this for real? Is he that afraid to debate? I'm not sure, but in either eventuality, whether he arrives just in time to do nothing or actually ends up delaying the talks, he surely comes out the loser. Obama, on the other hand? Calm, cool, collected, as usual.

But despite all of this, I think the most important and least talked about thing here is that McCain dramatically overestimated the coverage his little ploy would get. Instead of resetting the news cycle in his favor, election news has actually taken a back seat to the news from Washington. As a result, most of the coverage right now focuses on Congress' bailout, not McCain's. Perhaps that's why he's now about to change his mind again by supporting this new plan? To get attention? Really? It's anybody's guess.

Palin and Couric
Again taking a backseat is Sarah Palin, who conducted another press interview last night with CBS' Katie Couric. And guess what? Palin seemed unprepared and ignorant on a lot of subjects, including McCain advisers ties to "Frennie," and if McCain has any history as an economic regulator. Devastating? DocJess thinks so. Maybe that's why Palin may now suspend her campaign as well.

Debate Expectations

I apologize for the above pun. A quick note here, since I already covered the debates above. One strange side effect of McCain trying to delay the debates is that it puts him in the uncomfortable position of possibly pissing off a Republican Governor. Awkward:
And Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, welcoming reporters to Oxford in advance of the debate, said today that "I expect there to be a debate tomorrow night and I'm looking forward to it." He said he had he had no inside information on whether McCain will attend but said it was his "expectation" that the debate would take place.
Just in case, Bob Barr would be more than happy to step in.