Friday, September 26, 2008

NewsWatch 9.26.08

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Trends and Tremors

Right now I'm watching Virginia Representative Eric Cantor (R) tell Wolfe Blitzer that he does not know how McCain stands on either of the two currently proposed economic solutions. His own advisers confirm this:
McCain advisers dispute that account. One said McCain neither endorsed nor explicitly opposed the tentative plan.
Anyone who knows something about congressional politics knows that McCain's inability to say what he was in favor of was a major sticking point, if not the sticking point that derailed the initial deal. Had McCain actually wanted to look Presidential and solve this problem, he could have - by lobbying his party to compromise on some sort of deal, instead of stopping the deal (What was that, Mr. Blunt?) after an agreement had been reached. Certainly, Bush and the Democrats would have been willing to compromise.

Instead, McCain gallivanted into the fray and did, well, nothing. From Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
"All he has done is stand in front of the cameras...We still don't know where he stands on the issues. The insertion of presidential politics has not been helpful."
This gave House Republicans the chance they needed to start their revolt -- against the Bush administration, and instead of compromising, they proposed an entirely new plan at the last minute. Again, McCain did nothing (from the same IHT article):
Boehner pressed an alternative that involved a smaller role for the government, and McCain, whose support of the deal is critical if fellow Republicans are to sign on, declined to take a stand.
Fast forward to this afternoon, when McCain announced he will be attending the debate. First, this strikes me as odd, given that he originally said he would not debate unless a solution had been reached:
"I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night's debate until we have taken action to address this crisis."
His staff reiterated that earlier today. And yet, in today's (far-from-reality) announcement about re-joining the debate and re-starting the campaign:
He is optimistic that there has been significant progress toward a bipartisan agreement now that there is a framework for all parties to be represented in negotiations, including Representative Blunt as a designated negotiator for House Republicans. The McCain campaign is resuming all activities and the Senator will travel to the debate this afternoon
So now making 'significant progress' towards a deal qualifies as taking action on the economy? Moreover, while it's true that House Republicans are back at the table, does this really constitute significant progress?
"I'm hoping that we will make progress...we will not agree to a bill that sells taxpayers out to bail out Wall Street.'' - House Minority Leader John Boehner

"The question of insurance is an option...But the notion that you substitute that for the other is totally unacceptable to Paulson and Bernanke." - Rep. Barney Frank

Ed Gillespie, a senior Bush adviser, said some of the Republican proposals "can be accommodated, possibly."'ve now decided to go to the debate because you made...what progress, exactly? I'll leave it to our readers to answer that question. And one more for you: how is the economy now well enough off that McCain can continue his campaigning even though he has to "rush" back to New York.

If you watch Letterman on a regular basis, you know one of the best things about his show is that he makes you feel like an insider by carrying things with him from night to night - sometimes it's little gestures or catch phrases, sometimes it's a joke or story. So did you really think he was going to stop beating on John McCain?

Everyone's Stealing My Headline!
Seriously, CNN and New York Times, you'll be hearing from my lawyer-and-roommate. Debate Expectations indeed! At least I had the decency to apologize for using it.

So anyhow, after all of this, the debate will happen after all. What can we expect to hear? It may still be a Foreign Policy debate (John sure hopes so), but Jim Lehrer says he's not beholden to ask about anything. From the man himself:
“I am not restrained from asking questions about the financial crisis...Stay tuned!”
Pastors Playing Hardball
So, have you heard the one about the church that lost its tax exemption status? You might soon. Pastors want to be able to endorse candidates and have non-profit benefits, and a group of them is now protesting by offering those endorsements this Sunday. Any guesses who most of them will lean towards?

Today's Top Headline
Chris Rock: It's simple, vote for the guy with one house

That's by far the best advice I've heard today.