This afternoon John McCain announced that he was suspending his campaign to return to Washington to "deal with the economic crisis", and asked Obama to do the same. He also asked Obama to delay their first debate, scheduled for this Friday.
In my opinion, this is purely a political stunt. For starters, if he really wanted this to be bipartisan, he would have negotiated with Obama in private rather than spring this in the press. Especially since Obama called him this morning trying to arrange a joint statement. If McCain wanted to really show he put the country ahead of politics, he had a golden opportunity.
What he really wanted, in my view, was three things. First, he wanted to upset Obama's apple cart, knowing full well that Obama had little planned for the next three days other than preparing for the debate. Second, he wanted to appear "presidential" and force Obama to look like he was following the leader. And third, he wanted to divert attention away from his imploding campaign, including his caught-red-handed campaign manager.
But let's say I'm wrong and this isn't a cynical move at all; let's suppose that McCain really wants to do this because he thinks it is necessary. What does that really mean? In effect, it tells us that McCain can't deal with his campaign and with his responsibility as a senator at the same time. Even though others run his campaign, and he's not required to do much as a senator in this issue anyway.
The presidency is a difficult, demanding job that often requires the juggling of many different issues. Even, sometimes, juggling multiple crises. If McCain can't deal with his campaign and voting in the senate in the same week, how's he going to handle the presidency?
What if we had a market crisis like this and, at the same time, China decided to start lobbing missiles at Taiwan? Would President McCain drop an email to Chinese leaders asking them to postpone their war, because the president was "busy" and couldn't handle both issues at once?
Bottom line: John McCain has essentially told the world that being president is above his pay grade.
Sorry senator, but this is the 21st century and we need a president who can walk and chew gum at the same time. Frankly, I almost think it would be less embarrassing for McCain if this is a political move.