After declaring he’d return to Washington to help with the bailout negotiations immediately after last night’s debate, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) never went to Capitol Hill today. In fact, McCain stayed largely holed up in his Arlington apartment, leaving only to go to his campaign headquarters just around the block, the New York Times reports:
Asked why Mr. McCain did not go to Capitol Hill after coming back to Washington to help with negotiations, [McCain adviser] Mr. Salter replied that “he can effectively do what he needs to do by phone."
Yeah. 72 hours ago the planet was tipping off its axis, tv appearances canceled, campaigns suspended, and debates should be rescheduled so Johnnie Drama could fly to D.C. to personally, with his bare hands, wrest an economic solution from a hapless Congress, Treasury and President...
But today, when nobody's paying attention, McCain can handle his "role" in the negotiations in his bathrobe from one of his thirteen houses.
UPDATE [even better]: I suppose that's understandable, because when he DID show up in person it went like this
Bush turned to McCain, who joked, "The longer I am around here, the more I respect seniority." McCain then turned to Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to speak first.
Boehner was blunt. The plan Paulson laid out would not win the support of the vast majority of House Republicans. It had been improved on the edges, with an oversight board and caps on the compensation of participating executives. But it had to be changed at the core. He did not mention the insurance alternative, but Democrats did. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, pressed Boehner hard, asking him if he really intended to scrap the deal and start again.
No, Boehner replied, he just wanted his members to have a voice. Obama then jumped in to turn the question on his rival: "What do you think of the [insurance] plan, John?" he asked repeatedly. McCain did not answer.
If there were video of that exchange it would end this thing right fucking now.
UPDATE 2: Josh Marshall has the next two paragraphs...
[...] McCain did not answer.
One Republican in the room said it was clear that the Democrats came into the meeting with a "game plan" aimed at forcing McCain to choose between the administration and House Republicans. "They had taken McCain's request for a meeting and trumped it," said this source.
Congressional aides from both parties were standing in the lobby of the West Wing, unaware of the discord inside the Cabinet room, when McCain emerged alone, shook the hands of the Marines at the door and left. The aides were baffled. The plan had been for a bipartisan appearance before the media, featuring McCain, Obama and at least a firm statement in favor of intervention. Now, one of the leading men was gone.
Awesome. THAT is the difference between tactics and strategy, Senator McCain.
UPDATE 3 [you can't make this stuff up]:
This morning on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) praised Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for returning to Washington to help the bailout negotiations, saying his presence was vital to the negotiations:
"John didn't phone this one in.... You can't phone something like this in. Thank God John came back."
Seems to me, the only time progress WAS happening was when McCain was nowhere near negotiations—the deal is almost done before he parachutes in, he screws it all up, sits on his hands in the big meeting, and then backs down and goes to the debate. He then spends Saturday hanging around the house LITERALLY PHONING IT IN, drops by the campaign office and then he and Barbie go out to dinner with the Liebermans.
Yeah, sounds like he played a VITAL role, Sen. Huckleberry. As Benen said,
""Thank God John came back"? There's partisan hackery and then there's THIS kind of partisan hackery."