Summit degenerates, but a new plan emerging

The summit presided over by President Bush–attended by congressional leaders, John McCain, and Barack Obama–degenerated into a shouting match, according to reporters. The plan to spend $700 billion to purchase bad securities is losing support, but House conservatives have put forward a plan for the federal government to insure the bad debts, not take them over. From what I can tell from the overheated article linked above, McCain seems to be going in that direction. That sounds far less socialist and expensive to me. It looks like it was McCain vs. Bush and Obama, who with the Democrats supports the president’s plan.

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  • MarkE

    George Bush, our feckless leader.

  • WebMonk

    Meh, the Republican plan in principle is much better than the first bailout plan, but I’m seeing a few things that could cause problems in both the adoption of it and possible side effects.

    Because the plan is new, details have yet to be hammered out on it, but it has my approval already on one dimension: it seems to have stopped the first plan!

    The only thing I can find on the new plan is more like a general goal outline. A couple of the goals are pretty dodgy, but it’s still much preferable to the first.

    The text of the new plan can be seen at

    Like I said, several of those goals aren’t so great, but given the alternative, I’ll still take this one. Maybe as details get hammered out my feelings might change. We’ll see. Frankly, doing nothing would be my (possibly realistic) preferred response. Sort of like the Socratic Oath – “First, do no harm.”

    I read a guy once who said he votes on who he thinks will be the least likely to seriously hose things up, not on who he thinks will actually solve problems. There’s a certain amount of truth in that when it comes to government!

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Amen, WebMonk.
    Congress has a duty to sometimes do nothing.
    Meanwhile, the press is all over the Republicans for simply fouling things up, which leads me to think Republicans might be onto something worthwhile.
    Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, with their unexamined history both personal and legislative, leading the Dems, and Harry Reid being downright double-minded and double-tongued about who he desires to be where doing what–all that sends chills of Not-thrill all over my body (to quote kindly, sweet Maudie).
    But, the way the news runs these days, the hour is early.

  • WebMonk

    I personally get a kick out of the bizarre teammates this has formed. It seems to be (in broad strokes)

    Bush+Obama+most Democrats
    McCain+most Republicans

  • WebMonk

    This gives a pretty concise summary of what was going on. Having sat in on FAR too many business meetings where there seems to be consensus during the meeting, but then the plan falls apart afterward, I can see the same thing happening here.

    I think it’s a form of self-reinforcement. I’m guessing that Frank (D-Mass.) and several of the bill’s supporters were becoming pro-bailout and started to overlook the growing resistance in others. Because they wanted the bill and things seemed to be progressing, they start thinking that everyone is in favor of the bill. Then, when the reluctance and resistance that was present (though being overlooked) in the bargaining finally popped, Frank really was blindsided.

    I’ve seen it happen quite often in business meetings – a manager (or several) becomes enthused about a project and tends to push it ahead and brush aside concerns. He (they) wrap up the meeting thinking that it’s all settled and everyone is behind them when in actuality there was a good deal of resistance and reluctance. This effect tends to be magnified with time pressure. When ‘the plan’ finally meets significant resistance, the manager feels betrayed and hurt.

    That’s my very outside sort of view of what’s been going on – the resistance was always there but was being ignored. (evidence might be seen in all the articles that tended to talk of dislike of the bailout while the bailout plan continued to roll right ahead)

    If everything blows to kingdom come and feelings become so fragmented and acrimonious that absolutely nothing happens financially, I’ll be perfectly satisfied. There will be lots of other big problems coming from that, but at least the disastrous bailout plan wouldn’t happen.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Reports are that Democrats are trying to attach lots of irrelevancies to a bailout bill, including pork for activist groups, including reinstating the ban on shale oil leasing.
    This is when Congress doing nothing might be better.
    And this is when we should pay attention to more than our favorite news source, from mainstream to blogs, but ‘get out more’ and ‘search the scriptures [apologies–I mean the presses]’ to see what’s going on. Forget the posturing; pay attention to the facts (which remain extremely fluid, as only political facts can).
    It’s one thing to say McCain was playing politics or engaging in a stunt, but it’s dishonest not to note what all sides appear to be doing: posturing, stalling for political effect, blaming/not accepting blame, loading up for constituencies.
    And the debate? We don’t need no stinking debate. Not tonight. We’d do just as well to go to high school football games.
    Except to take time to call our congressman or senator and offer our encouragement or otherwise.
    Then go to a game.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Don’t you sorta know how the mouse feels, when the cat toys with him?
    Do you know how much that cat cares about the mouse’s anguish?

  • WebMonk (@2), there’s a Socratic Oath? Given the way I constantly try to teach others by asking questions (to their great annoyance), I should take it.

    Susan (@3), you said, “Congress has a duty to sometimes do nothing.” And you think McCain’s being in D.C. is helping them in this? Is it his leadership that lead to this impasse?

    Again I’ll ask, how has “suspending” his campaign affected McCain’s presence there — it hasn’t affected Obama’s. What need is there for ads to be “pulled” and other campaign stuff to cease as long as the candidates are in D.C.?

    And what is McCain’s being in D.C. doing, anyhow? How has his stunt helped anyone but him and his campaign?

    “Mr. McCain, whose support of the deal is critical if fellow Republicans are to sign on, declined to take a stand.” [1]

    “‘All he has done is stand in front of the cameras,'” Mr. Reid said of Mr. McCain. ‘We still don’t know where he stands on the issues.'” [2] (I mean, of course he would say that, but can anyone claim otherwise?)

    “Both candidates made the rounds on network evening news programs after meeting on the crisis with President Bush and bipartisan congressional leaders at the White House. McCain did not participate in late-night negotiations on Capitol Hill but worked the phones from his Virginia home. A senior McCain official said McCain hasn’t signed on to any one proposal, though he does agree there needs to be a greater protection for taxpayers. … As McCain returned to Washington at midday, Democratic and Republican negotiators emerged from a closed-door meeting to report an agreement in principle. An Obama campaign official said the Illinois senator called into the meeting. McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said McCain didn’t participate, but held talks with Republican leaders afterward.” [3]

    “It was McCain who had urged Bush to call the White House meeting. … McCain spoke surprisingly little after asking for the meeting.” [4]

    “McCain, who dramatically announced Wednesday that he was suspending his campaign to deal with the economic crisis, stayed silent for most of the session and spoke only briefly to voice general principles for a rescue plan. … Neither Bush, McCain nor Obama have been deeply involved so far in this week’s scramble to hammer out a package.” [5]

    [1] “Talks Implode During a Day of Chaos; Fate of Bailout Plan Remains Unresolved” by DAVID M. HERSZENHORN, CARL HULSE and SHERYL GAY STOLBERG,, 9/25/2008
    [2] “Bailout Talks to Resume After Impasse” by SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and CARL HULSE, 9/26/2008
    [3] “McCain-Obama debate prospects uncertain” by Liz Sidoti,, 9/25/2008, 11:44 PM
    [4] “Wild day, no deal” by David Rogers,, 9/25/08 11:58 PM
    [5] “Amid GOP revolt, bailout deal breaks down” by Jennifer Loven and Julie Hirschfeld Davis,, 9/24/2008, 11:58 PM

  • Susan (@6), “And the debate? We don’t need no stinking debate. Not tonight.” Well, it looks like John “Leadership” McMaverick disagrees, suddenly.

    There’s no consensus, yet, but he’s agreed to attend debate, anyhow. That’s Presidential Action!

    Oh, the headlines generated by the Republican ticket this week: “Presidential candidate agrees to attend Presidential debate! Extra! Extra!” “VP Candidate Takes Press Questions! Read all about it!” The sad thing is, they’re both news.

    As for McCain’s gambit: blink!

  • Peter Leavitt

    Actually, McCain was brought back to Washington to shore up Republican support for a resolute solution to this serious financial crisis. Yesterday he listened carefully to all sides on the issue and urged the recalcitrant Congressmen who are blocking Paulson’s proposal, to get back into the discussion, resulting in Rep. Blunt being delegated as the House’s spokesman in the negotiations.

    The McCain campaign has issued the following statement that is a good summary of the situation:

    The difference between Barack Obama and John McCain was apparent during the White House meeting yesterday where Barack Obama’s priority was political posturing in his opening monologue defending the package as it stands. John McCain listened to all sides so he could help focus the debate on finding a bipartisan resolution that is in the interest of taxpayers and homeowners. The Democratic interests stood together in opposition to an agreement that would accommodate additional taxpayer protections.

    Senator McCain has spent the morning talking to members of the Administration, members of the Senate, and members of the House. 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. Following the debate, he will return to Washington to ensure that all voices and interests are represented in the final agreement, especially those of taxpayers and homeowners.

    One hopes that McCain will have sufficient energy and wit tonight to thoughtfully debate Obama.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    this is interesting (the results of finding other sources for news than mainstream, etc.)
    Apparently, at the White House mtg., the Democrats there to speak (Dodd, Pelosi, Franks, maybe others) all deferred to Obama, making him the designated spokesman.
    When the meeting fell apart.
    Maybe that’s why we’re not hearing what good and helpful things Obama had to say in the mtg., and why we’re hearing *Democrats* say McCain’s presence blew up the mtg.
    You know, if what Paulson and Bush have proposed is such a good idea, and the Democrats are for it and have the votes to pass it, why don’t they pass it?
    I hope McCain pays attention and takes to heart how his friends in the Democratic party have spoken of him and treated him and dumped on him, and, if he should win, remembers it.
    Like I’d hoped Bush would attend to the same sort of betrayals after ‘reaching across the aisle’.

  • Don S

    tODD @ 8 & 9: I guess you’ve already decided how this whole thing is going down, based on the statements of Harry Reid (that paragon of fairness and good judgment) and snippets from the press (ditto). No need to wait until things are resolved — we know it’s McCain and those wascally Wepublicans, so we know it must be self-serving and horrible.

    Well, despite your certainly, I prefer to wait until the dust settles a bit before I pass judgment. I do have some observations. 1) Apparently, Bush and the Democrats and the Senate Republicans are on board with a modified version of the Paulson plan, and it is the House Republicans who are gumming up the works. OK, fine. Last I checked, the House Republicans are in the minority, and have no filibuster option like the minority party in the Senate. So, why, exactly, if this plan is so wonderful, is everyone letting the House Republicans stop the whole process? Just pass it, already! On the other hand, if it’s not so great that the Democrats feel comfortable passing it without House Republican support, than I would say this extra effort to further vet the possibilities is a good thing for the country; 2) 63% of the public currently do not favor the Paulson bailout proposal, which calls for further consideration, not necessarily because we should be poll-driven, but rather because it is our government’s duty to serve the public, at least by giving a controversial matter full consideration; 3) Harry Reid originally said this thing could not go forward without McCain’s approval. Then when McCain said, OK, I will drop everything and come to D.C., Reid said he didn’t mean McCain should come to town. Nice try, but it is not really fair to ask McCain to approve something without being part of the discussions; 4) Reid says that injecting presidential politics into the discussions is harming things, but the Democrats reportedly had Obama take the lead in negotiating for them during the meeting with the president yesterday, and that didn’t go well; 5) I think McCain’s idea in shutting down his campaign was that both candidates would kind of take their foot off the throttle and re-focus their efforts this week on this liquidity issue. Obama would have none of it — his eye is on the prize no matter what, so McCain is having to ramp up again; 6) it seems to me from the statements Democratic leaders are making that they are more interested in how this plays relative to the presidential race than they are in the issue itself. They seem to be making a full press effort to blame McCain for everything that is going wrong.

  • WebMonk

    Peter, you can’t POSSIBLY take ANY statement from EITHER campaign as an accurate account. Those statements turn being a scum-bag to making a tiny mistake; making a mistake into making a canny move; and making a canny move into being a shining bastion of brilliant leadership. Heck, if by some miracle either of them really did do any small thing that was out and out admirable with no shadings of something questionable – those statements would turn it into the candidate being the savior of mankind.

    tODD #8 – Oops. You’re right! Hmmm, maybe there should be a Socratic Oath as well as a Socratic Method. I should have said Hippocratic Oath. Dunno where “Socratic Oath” came from!

    Actually, those who are to practice the Hippocratic Oath could probably benefit from a bit more Socratic Method. Combine them in the “Oath of Hippocratic Socratic Method!”

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Brilliant summation, Don S

  • Don S

    Further to my earlier point, an article from Reuters today, in pertinent part (this is where I wish I could edit the way tODD does):

    “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday a plan to rescue U.S. financial institutions ‘has to happen,’ but final agreement is up to conservative Republicans who revolted against the plan being negotiated between Congress and the Treasury Department.
    ‘It will happen because it has to happen,’ Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in an interview with ABC’s ‘Good Morning America.’ ‘I would hope that we could come to agreement in the next 24 hours.’
    But she added that a deal would be up to House Republicans who balked at the $700 billion package being negotiated by congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and who have given no sign that they will support it.
    Pelosi and her fellow Democrats have said that President George W. Bush has to deliver a large number of Republican votes for the politically unpopular bailout to pass Congress.”

    Again I say: if Pelosi thinks this “has to happen”, for the good of the country, then it is her patriotic duty to ensure that it does happen, regardless of whether House Republicans fall into line. For goodness sake, she is a national leader, second in line for the presidency (God forbid!). Lead, already! You have the votes. Lead!

  • Don (@12), given that you’ve announced who you’re voting for and I haven’t, I find it ironic that you’re accusing me of having “decided how this whole thing is going down”. I know you think I’m in the tank for Obama, but that’s probably because of your partisan filter, not mine — the main position my comments have revealed is that I am not a fan of McCain’s campaign. But don’t pretend you’re some sort of nonpartisan paragon.

    Anyhow, if you actually read my comments (and don’t just file them into one of two files labeled “pro-McCain” and “stupid crap”), you’ll see that I’m not blaming the “wascally Wepublicans” for their maneuverings in this matter. Over on the other thread, where you commented to me after my comment (so I’m assuming you read mine), I even said that, while I’m no great shakes at economics, I think I might favor the breakaway Republicans here, since I’m no fan of a massive bailout that only helps the corrupt industry that caused this problem.

    The only thing I’m complaining about is McCain’s ridiculous posturing here. There’s no compromise yet, but he’s decided his work there is done, I guess, because he’s now “resuming” his campaign and attending the debate, proving that this whole thing was a fraud, anyhow. And what, exactly, is he supposed to have done that is so full of Presidential Leadership, anyhow? Can anyone point to anything besides him being there physically and listening? Is he making proposals? No, he hasn’t staked out an opinion that I’ve seen. Is he even in the middle of the relevant committees such that he could have an effect?

    In short: can anyone prove that his day-or-so of flying around and getting headlines has been of any value to anyone but John McCain?

    Also, WebMonk (@2 & 13), “first, do no harm” doesn’t appear in the Hippocratic Oath, either. Sorry. 🙂

  • Don (@15), what is your evidence that the Paulson proposal (or whatever it is now) “ha[s] the votes”? It’s clear to me from this part of what you quoted, “Pelosi and her fellow Democrats have said that President George W. Bush has to deliver a large number of Republican votes for the politically unpopular bailout to pass Congress,” that they don’t think they do have the votes. There are enough Republicans in objection right now to keep it from passing. Do you have proof to the contrary?

  • WebMonk

    Oh shoot! I would have sworn it was! Thanks tODD, I’ll try to remember that for future use.

    Maybe I’ll be able to use it to correct someone else sometime. Obviously I won’t give you credit and I’ll pretend I’ve always known that because of my superior erudition. 😀

  • Don S

    tODD (@ 16 & 17): I am not claiming to be non-partisan. I am just claiming to be holding my fire until I see what comes of this whole thing. I may be partisan but I am not 100% in the tank for McCain or Bush, and I do not yet have an opinion on how I want any bail-out remedy to sort out. Yes, I am planning on voting for McCain, as the candidate who, of the two major candidates, better represents my views. However, I may end up utterly disagreeing with his actions in this affair. I just don’t know enough yet. And, the point of my earlier posts is that I don’t think anyone else does either. Certainly, not enough to label them “ridiculous posturing”.

    Why is McCain going to the debate? Because Obama and the media are forcing him to. That’s my opinion. I don’t see the evidence to label this course change as “fraud”. Maybe you know something I don’t know or haven’t heard, to the effect that he always intended to attend the debate, and this whole thing was just a feint on his part. I think it is more likely that he just responded to the appeals that he weigh in on the crisis in the way he thought best, and didn’t know how things would fall. When Obama refused to throttle back his own campaign, he was forced to gear back up and backtrack on the debate issue.

    McCain said he viewed his initial role as being a listener and a facilitator, to give the House Republicans a place at the table and a chance to voice their opinion. Just because he didn’t burst on the scene and immediately start bloviating, as Obama reportedly did, doesn’t mean he didn’t “do” anything. Good leadership is about bringing people together and helping them to reach consensus, not haranguing them into falling into line. As for committees, they are irrelevant at this point. This thing isn’t going through committees. It’s going through leadership. He’s in the Senate, the Republicans who are objecting are in the House. It’s not about committees or positions at this juncture.

    Your statement: “In short: can anyone prove that his day-or-so of flying around and getting headlines has been of any value to anyone but John McCain?” goes to my whole point. WE DON’T KNOW YET! It’s been one day, for goodness sake (sorry for shouting, but sometimes the politicized nature of these things gets a little frustrating).

    As for whether there is evidence that the Paulson proposal (or whatever it is now) has the votes: The Democrats have the majority in both houses of Congress. Everyone acknowledges that both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are on board. Bush is on board. In the House, all fingers are pointing to House Republicans. No one is reporting that there are a lot of Democrats who are opposed to this plan. So, I am making an assumption, based on her statements, that she has a majority (Democrats plus some Republicans), but not enough for her to permit the bill to go to vote. I think I’m right on this, based on the reporting. If you have evidence that there are also a lot of House Democrats who are opposed, lay it on us. The issue is, Pelosi says this thing needs to get done, is essential for the country’s well being, but she is so political that she will let the country go down rather than have to bear the risk of passing the plan without House Republican support. Says a lot about her and the state of the Democratic party, in my humble opinion.

  • Don (@19), are you seriously arguing that McCain is going to the debate “because Obama and the media are forcing him to”? Waaah. Poor baby. Is this yet another example of Leadership from McCain? “I didn’t want to, but the mean media made me!” Perhaps the media will also force him to pick another running mate? Or quit his campaign entirely? Who knows what those evil puppet masters will do next with their compliant mannequin? Please.

    “When Obama refused to throttle back his own campaign …” Hello? In what way did McCain throttle back his campaign? Due to the ad lag time, at best his ads will be suspended for a short while today, maybe tomorrow. He himself was working the phones rather than attend an evening discussion on the crisis. His campaign offices were open and working. His surrogates were on TV. Palin was out and about in the open. And yet you blame Obama for not shutting everything down, “forc[ing]” McCain to “gear back up”, even though he hadn’t geared down in the first place?

    You said, “McCain said he viewed his initial role as being a listener and a facilitator, to give the House Republicans a place at the table.” In what meaningful fashion could this not have occurred without McCain? Were the House Republicans too timid to speak up without the physical presence of a True Maverick?

    “Good leadership is about bringing people together and helping them to reach consensus.” Let me know when McCain has done this. As I’ve heard, there is no consensus, but McCain is leaving the negotiating table for the debate, anyhow. Leadership!

    “As for committees, they are irrelevant at this point. This thing isn’t going through committees.” If it’s going to be a bill, it’s going through the committees, isn’t it? Leadership(tm) doesn’t actually have the power to manifest laws ex nihilo.

    “It’s been one day, for goodness sake.” Yes, and that was apparently enough, because McCain is headed for the debate. So his work is clearly done, as his campaign is no longer “suspended”. So, again: what did he do in that day?

  • Don S

    tODD @ 20: Yes, just as McCain forced Obama to return to Washington this week, away from his nice little compound in Clearwater. I guess they’re both mannequins. I do think McCain miscalculated how utterly politicized the Dems are right now — he thought they would rise to the occasion of trying to resolve a national crisis in a bipartisan manner, and they would have none of it. So, he blinked.

    Reid was the one who initially said McCain needed to sign on to get a deal done. That’s why it had to be McCain. Paulson also begged McCain to get involved. I think we’ve already been over this.

    The reports were that McCain was working the phones with House Republicans, not fundraising. You guys really were hoping McCain would completely shut down and let Obama and his surrogates run wild? He was looking for a little reciprocation, to set a more bipartisan mood, and didn’t get it.

    McCain’s only leaving for the debate, and then returning immediately to D.C., as far as I have heard. So, the jury is still out on what he did in that one day.

    No, bills don’t have to go through committee if the rules are suspended. They can go directly to the floor. I’m pretty sure this legislation will not see a committee, or, at most, will only pass through on a perfunctory basis. Clearly, the hammering out of terms is not occurring in committee, unless the president, sec. treas., Senate majority leader, Speaker of the House, and respective minority leaders, plus the two Senators who are running for president are some kind of super-committee I am not aware of.

    So, is Pelosi going to step up and get this done? Or is she going to continue to hide behind the poor little minority House Republicans and play politics?

  • utahrainbow

    just fyi on the bailout. I’m no expert, but lots of economists have signed this:

  • Don (@21), I could see how you could say that McCain’s stunt “forced” Obama to return to Washington this week — of course, it didn’t actually force him to do so, he chose to do so in light of McCain’s stunt. I’m pretty certain he guessed (as I did) that if he didn’t go to D.C. to be with The Maverick, that McCain would mock him for being all talk, no action, or something like that. So Obama joined the game, at least in part.

    That said, what action did “Obama and the media” take that “forc[ed]” McCain to attend the debates? He chose to make his grand claim that there was no time for campaigning right now (though he didn’t actually live up to that claim), and he set the conditions for when he’d attend the debate (if negotiations were completed, which they aren’t). But what did “Obama and the media” do except point out what was true when McCain decided to play this game: that if he didn’t show up at the debate, he’d probably look foolish or scared. He tried to play a game, and he lost. The only thing you could blame Obama for doing is not playing McCain’s game — at least, not how McCain wanted him to.

    And how is it that you’re blaming the Democrats for being “utterly politicized” right now when it’s the Republicans holding things up right now with their split party? You say McCain “thought they would rise to the occasion of trying to resolve a national crisis in a bipartisan manner”, and yet you blame Pelosi for trying to do just that: for trying to get a bill that has the House Republicans on board. Think about that. On the one hand, you complain that there’s no bipartisanship, and on the other hand, you urge Pelosi to “get this done” in spite of the House Republican revolt. It’s not clear what you want.

    “You guys really were hoping McCain would completely shut down and let Obama and his surrogates run wild? He was looking for a little reciprocation, to set a more bipartisan mood, and didn’t get it.” Oh boo hoo. That’s not leadership. And yes, I was expecting him to be a man of his word and do what he actually said he was going to do: suspend his campaign. In no meaningful way did he do that. That Obama decided not to join his foolish gambit is not Obama’s problem, it’s McCain’s. McCain wants credit for being a Man of Action, and yet his action is dependent on someone else joining him. It’s not leadership, it’s not real action. It’s political grandstanding.

    And you still have yet to demonstrate that McCain’s physical presence there has done any good or made any difference.

  • Don S

    Yes, tODD @ 23, thank you. Just as McCain’s decision to return to D.C. “forced” Obama to return to D.C., so did Obama’s decision to do the debate no matter what ultimately “force” McCain to do the debate on its original scheduled night. Same thing, and that is all I meant by my original comment.

    The House Republicans are legitimately trying to negotiate an agreement which reflects their values DESPITE the fact that the pressure is overwhelmingly on them to fold and sign onto the Paulsen plan. The Democrats are the ones who have been whining (this morning’s presser with Reid and Dodd was the low point) that McCain came in and “ruined” everything, trying to turn a legitimate national crisis into a presidential race political win. The funny thing is how transparent it all is. On the one hand, they claimed that he came in and didn’t do anything but listen — hardly spoke at all. But, on the other hand, somehow, without doing anything, he screwed up the whole deal, by himself! They also claimed that he inserted presidential politics into the deal, and should have stayed away, but on the hand, they made Obama their front and center guy at the big meeting. Way to NOT insert presidential politics into the negotiations! That’s some serious grandstanding, McCain should take notes from the expert.

    As for your last paragraph, you have still to wait for two whole days. Patience isn’t your strong point, is it?

  • Don (@24), “Obama’s decision to do the debate no matter what”? That’s some precious framing there! He agreed to do the debate that he had already agreed to. That was no change — he’d always held that position. It was McCain who attempted to reframe things so that everyone should agree with him that, in spite of his agreeing to the debate schedule, suddenly it was very important that campaigns be “suspended” (though his wasn’t) until a compromise was reached (it still hasn’t been), since he was needed in D.C. (for whatever evidence-free reason one may want to cite). McCain ultimately gave up on this attempt to reframe things, since Obama didn’t give in to the silly posturing. If you want to call that “forcing” McCain to attend the debate he’d already agree to attend before he said he wouldn’t until conditions were met that have yet to be met … well, that’s your choice.

    You seem to think there’s a contradiction between saying McCain has done nothing and saying that he’s injected politics into the negotiations — there isn’t. The point is that he’s done nothing useful, and this may be, in part, because he further politicized the debate. I still don’t think that Obama had to be in D.C. either, but at least you can’t say he’s contributed to the fracturing of his own party’s negotiations (for good or ill). I don’t think you can say that about McCain.

    As for saying I have to wait two days to find out what McCain’s accomplished, I guess that’s a good enough admission that he hasn’t yet done anything of note in all this posturing. Hopefully, though, he’s back in D.C. Right Now exercising more of his Astute Leadership.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The point is that he’s done nothing useful, and this may be, in part, because he further politicized the debate.

    Not really, McCain was brought back to Washington at Paulson’s personal request to get the House Republican conservatives aboard with the bailout package. In the White House meeting he made it clear that the House Republicans concerns about the plan had not been respected in the formulation of it. McCain is working with Paulson and the House Republicans to make some compromises. McCain was, also, instrumenal in making the House R. Whip a conservative spokesman in the high-level bail out plan negotiations.

    Somehow the Democrats convinced Paulson, among other Christmas tree goodies, to allocate 20% of any bailout profits to radical community organizing outfits like Acorn and La Raza. This was a compromise much too far that needs to be axed. These outfits played a major role in the lowering of credit standards that caused the mortgage credit meltdown.

    After the debate McCain has returned to Washingtpn to continue to play a valuable role in this serious national financial crisis.

  • Don S

    tODD @ 25: Yes, McCain is back in D.C, reportedly, and things at this hour appear to be progressing well toward a vote on Monday. That was quite a twist — you interpreted my comment that we need to wait to see what he has or has not accomplished to ” I guess that’s a good enough admission that he hasn’t yet done anything of note in all this posturing.” With that kind of ability to twist one’s words, you could work on the Obama campaign.

    I take it that you don’t negotiate complex agreements on a regular basis, since you don’t seem to value the key leadership ability of being able to encourage consensus by making sure all parties get a chance to get their ideas on the table and have them be heard, then move people together. These things take time, but it’s the only way you get a buy in, ultimately, from everyone. Obama’s idea was to parachute in, take the lead in bloviating during Bush’s meeting, create a contentious uproar, then leave. I’m glad he’s not back there today, and if he wins the presidency it is going to be a long 4 years.

  • Don (@27), I still think you don’t know what you want. On the one hand, you say (@21) that “[McCain] thought [Democrats] would rise to the occasion of trying to resolve a national crisis in a bipartisan manner, and they would have none of it.” You extol the virtues (@27) of “encourag[ing] consensus by making sure all parties get a chance to get their ideas on the table and have them be heard, then move people together.”

    Oh, so you want a bipartisan solution? Then why did you say (@19) “Pelosi says this thing needs to get done, is essential for the country’s well being, but she is so political that she will let the country go down rather than have to bear the risk of passing the plan without House Republican support. Says a lot about her and the state of the Democratic party,” urging her (@15) to “ensure that it does happen, regardless of whether House Republicans fall into line” with cries of “Lead, already! You have the votes. Lead!” and (@12) “Just pass it, already!”

    What, exactly, do you want? Other than, of course, for McCain to win?

    And you’re still missing my point abouut demanding evidence of what good McCain’s physical presence is doing. The only answer you seem ready to provide is at some point in the indefinite future, when a bill comes around. At that point, no doubt, you and the Congressional Republicans will claim that, whatever bill there is, it only could have happened with McCain’s Bold Leadership. I don’t expect otherwise.

    But that doesn’t mean he’s actually doing anything. He could sit in a broom closet while the negotiations continue and still claim in the end it couldn’t have happened without him. My point is: what evidence can you point to now that he is doing something besides being there physically and preparing to ultimately take credit? What is he doing?

    I found two articles ([1][2]) that discuss the actual negotiations. Here is the list of people they indicate are actually involved: Judd Gregg (R-NH), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Boehner (R-OH), Harry Reid (D-NV), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Henry Paulson, Barney Frank (D-MA), John Thune (R-SD), and George Bush. Not John “Maverick Leadership” McCain.

    Meanwhile, here is how the Post characterizes both candidates’ roles in the negotiations:

    Presidential politics again played a role in the bargaining. Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama called key negotiators and portrayed themselves as helping without getting directly involved in the talks.

    They also add:

    McCain, who flew to Washington after Friday night’s presidential debate in Mississippi, spent part of Saturday working the phones and “helping out as he can,” aide Mark Salter said. But McCain did not enter the Capitol, where his colleagues were voting on a $634 billion spending bill.

    Now, those who choose not to think about things can simply say, oh, that’s just the liberally biased media, without actually reading the articles or contending their claims. Myself, I see no evidence that McCain has done anything, though I have no doubt he will claim credit for whatever is done by those who are actually involved.

    [1] “Key lawmakers revive rescue talks”,, 9/27/08 5:18 ET
    [2] “Senate leader: Significant progress on bailout” by Charles Babington,, 9/27/08 5:21 PM

  • Sigh. Again with forgetting to close my own block quote. The part at the end starting with “Now, those who choose” and ending with the footnotes is my own writing, not a quote.

  • Peter Leavitt

    tOdd, your missing the point that the House reform Republicans were not really consulted about their views on the bailout until Sen. McCain came on scene, heard them, and is now making sure that their views are being integrated into the overall plan. It’s, also, why the House Whip, Roy Blunt bas replaced Rep. Boehner in the negotiations. It is a good sign that in a McCain presidency he will pay more attention to the views of reform Republicans in Congress.

    In the meeting at the White House Thursday, McCain had the guts to stand up to the consensus that had been reached on the bailout plan in order to achieve an even better consensus that involved the House reform Republicans.

  • Don S

    tODD @ 28: I appreciate your consideration for what I want, but I don’t think anyone else cares. I don’t really know what I want, but I am glad that this thing is being dragged out, and that the House Republicans are at least getting the chance to have some input with less socialistic plans than those originally proposed. In particular, I am glad that they have apparently gotten rid of Dodd’s wonderful proposal to siphon $billions into left-wing housing groups like ACORN, as well as other liberal Christmas ornaments they always like to add to things like this.

    Now what Peter said at 30 is pretty much right. McCain was called on by Harry Reid because he wanted McCain to get the Republicans on board. McCain said, fine, but if I’m going to get involved I’ve got to come to town and understand the issues in person. Fair enough. He comes to town, attends the meeting with Bush, for the purpose of getting a download on the issues and where everyone is. Reportedly, Obama was set up by Congressional leadership to ambush him during the meeting, lambasting him with the fact of the uprising by House Republicans, and demanding to know where he stands. Reportedly, McCain said very little, but made the point that the House Republicans needed to be heard if this was truly going to be a bipartisan solution. The next morning, Reid and Dodd, and Pelosi, separately, all knifed McCain, who hadn’t even had the chance to say a thing about the matter yet, blaming him for destroying the whole deal that never was! That’s why I laid into the Democrats at that point. They claimed to want bipartisan cooperation, but were unwilling to give the Republicans input and consideration. If they want a bipartisan buy-in, they have to be nice. If they want to harangue and bluster and play politics as usual, they can pass the bailout any time they want without House Republican votes. It’s their call, but since they hold all the levers of power in Congress, also their responsibility.

    Clear enough?

  • Carl Vehse

    Powerlineblog has an article, “The Bailout Deal: What is Is?” that provides side-by-side comparision of key features for the original Paulson plan; the Barney Frank-Chris Dodd version proposed by the Democrats; and the compromise legislation that emerged last night.