Debate Delay Dicey Decision

Here I was, planning on giving up going to the first night of my college class reunion, S. beginning to get ideas about a debate party of sorts, when my boy John McCain's picture popped up as I surfed through the New York Times website.

"McCain Seeks to Delay First Debate Amid Financial Crisis"

I had just finished listening to our resident teenager explain to her mother, with the slick smoothness of a TV defense attorney, why it was perfectly okay for her to go shopping in the middle of the afternoon ON A WEEKDAY when she is flagging her economics class (is this some irony or what?). Although, according to her, her grade is low only because there are some "slight discrepancies" between what she "knows" and the right answers to the latest test questions.

So when I saw that headline, I felt like I was reading about the teen-aged version of John McCain.

Being unpredictable has worked for McCain lately, keeping the Obama campaign off its stride. But once McCain goes over the limit with these kind of decisions, he'll turn from maverick to menace in a heartbeat.

Does it really matter if he and Obama go to Washington? They've been briefed personally by the two architects of the bailout plan on a daily basis. They've focused almost exclusively on national issues the last few months, as opposed to issues that are germane to their constituents in Arizona or Illinois.

McCain is in a tighter spot than Obama. Oppose the bailout to distance himself from Bush, and the public outcry will be deafening. Vote for the bailout, even a new version, and the shadow of the Bush presidency he's been avoiding all summer will come back to haunt him.

If you live with a teenager, you understand the power of pretext better than just about anybody. The pretext of postponing Friday's debate...

...opens the door to postponing the vice-presidential debate with Sarah Palin, who has never debated anything ever on a national stage.

You do the math.

Something tells me that yesterday's fracas over access to the network feeds touched a nerve in someone behind-the-scenes.

Whether I'm right or wrong about this surely won't matter for long, though, as McCain and Palin are apt to change their minds back at any moment - just like our resident teenage diva.

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