Props to my friend Leah for noting what a dodge this is. Head full of cold germs, my first thought when I heard CNN breathlessly report this morning (“this just in!”) John McCain’s proposal to delay his debate with Barack Obama and renounce campaigning until a bailout program is developed was, “Ah. Good strategy. Makes him look ‘presidential’ – whatever that means.”

Such is the obvious gambit. But, hey, what a way to get out of answering questions about an economy McCain fails to understand. Sure, the debate is focused on foreign policy, but a global economy facing a widespread crisis as the world’s largest consumer and debtor drowns in its own stupidity might have some bearing on how the next Prez interacts with his peers on the world stage. McCain has found a handy way to deflect criticism for last week’s gaffes and wild demands for firing the SEC chief, while putting Obama on the spot. The Bloomberg article linked above quotes a perfesser:

“The suspension does bring the ‘ready-to-lead’ issue back into focus for McCain,” said Paul Light, a public service professor at New York University. “Obama is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.”

Dana Perino helpfully chimes in:

“Bipartisan support from Senators McCain and Obama would be helpful in driving to a conclusion,” press secretary Dana Perino said.

But, hey, no pressure, “Barry”. So far, the AP reports that Obama is not, as Sarah Palin might put it, read to “blink.” If you’re thinking, “Er, isn’t this a non-issue meant to distract us from the sheer stupidity of the Paulson bailout plan,” I would chastise you for your cynicism. Really, just because neither candidate has anything more to offer than vague “principles” and is more interested in hedging their bets against either a full endorsement or a full rejection than, say, calling the Paulson bailout for the utter bullshit it is – that’s no reason assume they’re more comfortable arguing over porcine applications of lipstick. Are not presidential contests supposed to be about debate formats, the relative heights of podiums and microphones, the selection of bland moderators, and the arrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic?

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