As Allahpundit already noted in an update to his excellent post on John McCain’s suspension of his campaign, Harry Reid went out of his way to tell him, “don’t bother”. However, as John McCormack notes at the Weekly Standard, that’s just a day after Reid’s insistence that McCain return to support the Bush administration’s bailout plan. How soon they forget:
But yesterday, Reid demanded that the White House made sure the legislation had John McCain’s backing, and Reid floated this bogus piece of news clearly intended to force McCain’s hand: “I got some good news in the last hour or so … it appears that Sen. McCain is going to come out for this.” McCain flatly denied that he had endorsed the plan.
So Harry Reid says that it’s essential that John McCain backs legislation designed to avert the greatest economic meltdown since the Great Depression. And when McCain says the highly problematic legislation, in its current form, is not good enough, Reid tells McCain to stay away from Capitol Hill. Who’s playing politics with economic crisis?
Well, everyone is, but this gambit from Reid is really transparent. He wanted McCain on the hook so that Reid could blame McCain for the political fallout. When McCain called Reid’s bluff — and that’s what appears to have happened here — Reid did what Reid always does: retreat.
I think Reid fears more than just the idea that McCain will “risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation’s economy.” What Reid fears is that McCain will return to lead the Republican effort to reach a compromise, and the Senate and House GOP will let him do it. If McCain takes ownership of the bailout effort and manages to get his suggestions on limiting executive compensation and so on as part of the finished product, he will be able to trot McCain-Dodd on the campaign trail as yet another reform he’s accomplished by working across the aisle. And in a time of crisis, no less.
And what will Obama be able to say? He gave a couple of speeches and raised cash for himself while McCain went to work for the nation.
If that’s what McCain and the Republicans have in mind, this could be the coup of the entire campaign. While Obama went out and sucked up to fundraisers, McCain built the bipartisan compromise that saved the American financial system. If he succeeds, McCain will have trumped Obama on what should have been the Democrats’ best issue.
Update: Here’s the video from yesterday of Reid demanding leadership from McCain:
“We need, now, the Republicans to start producing some votes for us. We need the Republican nominee for president to let us know where he stands and what we should do.”
Notice that Reid never demanded leadership from the Democratic nominee for President. I guess he already knows that would be a futile request.