The Campaign Spot

Why Did McCain Decide to Go to the Debate Tonight?

Maybe with all of the drama of the past week, the viewership for tonight’s debate will be off the charts, and McCain will hit it out of the park.

But my first instinct is that by agreeing to go to Mississippi for the debate tonight, he’s reversed himself in a not-reassuring manner. Senator, help us out.
I thought that if they didn’t have an agreement by this afternoon, McCain would have managed to put Obama in a lose-lose situation. Obama would leave to go to Mississippi to… hold a town hall meeting? — while McCain stayed in the Capitol building and periodically emerged to give progress reports: “We appear to have an agreement on X issue, but we’re still working on Y. I think Speaker Pelosi is being unreasonable if she thinks the deal has to be contingent on her ability to get her caucus ‘political cover’ for this plan. Either you think the plan is a good idea or you don’t, and you can explain it to the voters. You can’t say, ‘well, I thought it was necessary, but I was too afraid to say so.’ I’ll be glad to debate Senator Obama, wherever he is tonight, as soon as we’ve staved off “Financial Armageddon” as the editors of the Washington Post put it. I’d rather lose an election than lose a war, and I’d rather lose an election than see my country suffer an economic recession or depression, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 1930s.”  
I figured that as the afternoon wore on, Obama would flinch and agree to a postponement, rather than risk look silly.
I’d love to be wrong, but this looks like a pretty significant mistake by the McCain campaign.
Of course, if there is a deal this afternoon, maybe all of this looks very different…
UPDATE: Perhaps part of my consternation is the sense that I agreed with McCain’s initial decision to suspend the campaign and postpone the debate, and have spent the past 48 hours arguing that it’s the right thing to do for the country, if not politically. With a sudden reversal, McCain has cut my legs out from under me.
And you know what happens once your legs are cut out from under you. Joe Biden shows up, telling you to stand up and show yourself to everybody.

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