McCain Suspended His Campaign and All He Got Was This Lousy Bailout Failure

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Ronald Lauder, mayormaker? Photo: Getty Images

The economy was scary enough before Congress failed to pass the controversial bailout bill yesterday, but at least it has given folks a chance to point fingers. Republicans blamed Nancy Pelosi's poorly timed but fairly unexceptional partisan speech; Democrats called out the many Republicans who actually voted "nay" (along with a nice chunk of Dems). Barack Obama has kept his distance from the proceedings, but John McCain has been targeted for his ineffectual campaign "suspension" stunt. He aimed to reap the political rewards of a bailout deal, and now stands to lose the most from its continued delay.

• Marc Ambinder explains McCain's "fundamental problem": "[T]he country blames Republicans for this mess, this enormous, many-tentacled, fundamental economic failure, and McCain hasn't differentiated himself from his party enough." In addition, McCain had "riskily suspended his campaign and intervened, without intervening. That intervention failed." But "neither candidate has distinguished themselves." [Atlantic]

• Jonathan Allen says that everybody shares the blame, but "McCain invested more political capital than anyone else in a deal that went bad." After his "suspension" gambit, McCain had stood to possibly earn some "much-needed plaudits" if the bailout passed, but with its failure "was left with little room to argue he had helped the process. So, he fired a few partisan shots." [CQ Politics]

• Joe Klein doesn't "blame John McCain for not rounding up enough Republican votes to get this bailout bill through the House of Representatives," but he does "blame McCain for his puerile histrionics and for dragging this issue ... into presidential politics." Obama, for his part, "didn't lead, but then, he wasn't in a position to lead." He did, however, support the compromise and "warned against panic" when the deal failed, which was "eminently rational behavior in a moment of crisis." [Swampland/Time]

• Abe Greenwald claims Obama "definitely won the post-vote sound-bite war." Though he was "vague" and "pie-in-the-sky," he "intended to reassure and anything is worlds better than John McCain’s sniping through his economic adviser." [Contentions/Commentary]

• Victor Davis Hanson sees Obama as "again voting present, clueless while trying to act cool, waiting for calls, and issuing hourly contradictory statements adjusted to perceived CNN punditry and Drudge headlines." [Corner/National Review]

• Thomas Schaller thinks Obama "faces a key opportunity when he could, though not quite suspend his campaign, redirect his energies toward Washington and actually sav[e] the situation." If Obama can work up a couple dozen more Democratic votes, he can "emerge as the hero of the moment, the markets ... and the election." [War Room/Salon]

• Ben Smith and Glenn Thrush suggest McCain "could again attempt to deliver what he tried, and failed, to serve up this week: Republican votes" after his "efforts to cast himself as a problem-solving legislative leader" were undermined by House Republicans. [Politico]

• Rich Lowry calls the bailout failure "a blow to John McCain, who had so dramatically 'suspended' his campaign to return to DC and broker a deal," who now looks "ineffectual" because of the House Republican revolt. [National Review]

• Howard Wolfson writes that McCain now "looks like a loser — his credibility and prestige diminished by the bill's failure." But McCain unnecessarily brought this on himself, while "Obama knew better than to take ownership of a process that he couldn't really control and probably didn't want to." [Flack/New Republic]

• Andrew Romano contends that since McCain wanted some of the credit if the deal passed, "doesn't McCain — by his own standards — deserve some of the blame" now that it has failed? Neither country nor campaign "seems to have benefited from his behavior." [Stumper/Newsweek]

• Jackie Calmes says that McCain's role "has done him no political good," while Obama "did not twist Democrats’ arms to support" the bill. [NYT]

Related: The Day After the Worst Day Yet

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.