Suspension of disbelief

John McCain has proven one thing time and again when it comes to this presidential campaign and general election specifically. He will gamble big and worry about ramifications later. It’s becoming a pattern and you wonder how far he’ll go. 

On the eve of the conventions (remember the conventions, feels like 6 months ago right?) the general wisdom told us Barack Obama and his huge stadium, his rhetoric, and his party’s enthusiasm were going to create a magical night and a huge bounce. McCain, never one to give a great prompter speech, and not the darling of his party’s base, was looking at a woeful convention. Many said that Obama’s slight lead in the polls would turn into a huge one. 

So McCain dropped back and tossed up a Hail Mary in the form of Sarah “The Barracuda” Palin. The darling of the base, she thrilled at her appearance and began drawing huge crowds. Obama’s moment in the sun was squashed and the convention bounce became McCain’s.

Now with the economy front and center, and Obama surging ahead as voters feel he is the better candidate on the economy, and the economy moving well to the front of the pack on the list of voter concerns, general wisdom again favored Obama. McCain tried multiple approaches last week but none stuck, the fundamentals were strong, then the situation was dire, the bailout of AIG was a bad idea, then it was good idea. McCain had a terrible week and was quickly sinking. His choice, toss up another Hail Mary, “suspend” (by all accounts his campaign is not suspended at all) his campaign and head to Washington to I suppose broker a deal. 

But as we saw with the Sarah Palin gamble, short term gains have given way to long term liabilities. Palin has yet to seriously deal with the press except for two long form interviews each getting mediocre reviews. Her public image is quickly turning to comely novice that needs a few more years and a lot more homework. In short, people are beginning to see through the excitement and see there is very very little by way of substance. 

This second go around the questioning began almost immediately as the Senator McCain is flirting with depriving the American audience a crucial debate. McCain has attempted to look more presidential but in doing so, has drawn criticism for playing politics with the most important issue of our day. Observers note that while McCain and Obama’s meeting at the White House was the theater, the rest of congress was doing the lifting. Will this second gamble work? No one knows for certain but it’s end game will play out tomorrow night. Strategically it was an interesting play, but one must wonder, how many rabbits can McCain pull out of the hat?

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