Some interesting details of the White House meeting from Politico, though I have to note they conflict in part with a first hand account I received myself, which suggested McCain was a more active player in the meeting than this story implies. I trust my source but don’t know more than I was told. Here’s Politico’s David Rogers:
It was McCain who had urged Bush to call the White House meeting but Democrats made sure Obama had a prominent part. And much as they complained later of being blindsided, the whole event turned out to be something of an ambush on their part—aimed at McCain and House Republicans.
“Speaking professionally,” said one Republican aide, “They did a very good job.”
When Bush yielded early to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D- Nev.) to speak, they yielded to Obama to speak for the assembled Democrats. And it was Obama who raised the subject of the conservative alternative and pressed Paulson on what he thought of the idea.
House Republicans felt trapped—squeezed by Treasury, House Democrats and a bipartisan coalition in the Senate. And while McCain spoke surprisingly little after asking for the meeting, he conceded that it appeared there were not the votes for the core Paulson plan without major changes.