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John McCain is a smart man. He didn't finish in the top 90% in his class at Annapolis. He didn't graduate Harvard Law School and serve as an Editor of the Law Review as did his opponent. But McCain survived five and a half years of torture in the Hanoi Hilton and twenty six years on Capitol Hill through his faith and an extraordinarily deep belief in his values and his views.


He got beat up pretty thoroughly in the 2000 Presidential primaries by the forces of Karl Rove who cast him in the critical South Carolina primary as the father of an illegitimate black child. It's eight years later and he's on the offensive in what anyone would describe as a Democratic year made more so by the evolving economic crisis.


Barack Obama's inability to connect with middle America voters in the primaries was made far worse by the trash talk of his former Reverend and a few key misspoken words at a San Francisco fundraiser. McCain has managed to paint Obama as a celebrity with neither the international or legislative experience to realize the change that has become his mantra.


After an amazing four days in Denver, the Democrats were struck dumb by the selection of a little known governor from Alaska with almost no foreign policy experience as the running mate for the 72 year old McCain. The overzealous attack that followed on the heels of the announcement originated by web based media sources and then mainstreamed by major America newspapers and media outlets made it possible for the McCain campaign to cry foul in a way the a certain Senator from New York could only dream about. So from the bubble Sarah Palin emerged as a feminist force from the right, shoring up the Republican base and gaining lots of independent women and Reagan Democrats. And McCain rode a domestic surge up the polls until the economy broke the Palin bubble.


The economy is wrecked in ways that even this naive reporter can tell, (Lehman is gone, Merrill is bought and AIG is bailed out), are so devastating that the Treasury Secretary says he needs almost three quarters of a trillion dollars just to buy up the bad loans and put his finger firmly in the dike long enough to stop the free fall of the markets.


Both candidates make a variety of pronouncements, some valuable and others that are largely meaningless. The Treasury Secretary and the Fed Chair ascend Capital Hill to make their case that it's now or else and in the original three page document it even states;


"Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."


That seems to me to be enough to generate anger from a rock and I've noticed that although many members of Congress can at times be mistaken for dead, this one should bring them all back from their near eternal slumber.


As for Senator McCain he does not sleep! He bounced back Wednesday by moving to suspend his campaign in light of the crisis and the need for immediate passage of some agreed upon form of the Administrations $700 billion package to quiet the markets and prevent a deepening recession. He requested that Senator Obama join him. Then he got his friend in the White House to make it official and invite both along with Senate and House leadership to a meeting on Thursday. The Senator from Arizona looks Presidential and even a bit statesmanlike while Obama got caught saying he believed he could handle more than one thing at a time.

 The current President's father learned a critical lesson the hard way from a young inspired teacher from Arkansas; It's the economy stupid! In the middle of an economic meltdown it's not a good idea to tell the public you can do other things than concentrate on fixing it! So, I believe McCain has claimed the high ground on the one issue where he was clearly vulnerable. I still believe with the Wars and the general level of unhappiness rampant throughout the country that the race is still Obama’s to win. But he has to show passion and leadership and find a way to get the better of McCain in the first debate at least well enough to put the Commander and Chief question to rest. Then baring any October surprises a Democrat may actually unlock the door to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  



Larry Snider is the President of the Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace; ICMEP. He founded New Hope for Peace, a dialogue and educational forum in 2001 and is a member of the Greater Bucks County Peace Circle. He is author of numerous (more...)
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