Daniel W. Drezner

Not going to be a boring day today

One of the conundrums about what I do for a living is that it’s good for my profession when we live in interesting times — and by “interesting” I mean, “teetering on the brink of disaster. ” Today is gonna be an interesting day. First, there’s going to be the market and political reaction to yesterday’s ...

One of the conundrums about what I do for a living is that it’s good for my profession when we live in interesting times — and by “interesting” I mean, “teetering on the brink of disaster. ” Today is gonna be an interesting day. First, there’s going to be the market and political reaction to yesterday’s bipartisan compromise failure to reach agreement on the bailout plan, and the extent to which John McCain is responsible.  There are conflicting accounts about what exactly happened — but I’m curious to see if a consensus emerges during the day about a) a bailout plan; and b) Obama and McCain’s role in a bailout plan.  My one substantive thought about this:  I don’t like the “tranche” idea of giving Treasury the money in installments.  The one reason I can see for Treasury’s $700 billion number was to signal to the markets that the Mother of All Backstops is available to insure liquidity and solvency in the financial system.  If you segment that out, it weakens and dilutes the signal (see Greg Mankiw for a longer defense of the contours of the Treasury plan).    My one political thought about this:  Hey, remember when McCain and Obama claimed, again and again, that they could reach across party aisles to get things done?  During this crisis, has either of them taken a step that even remotely backs up this claim?  If I were Obama, I’d give Boehner a call just to leak the fact that I’d tried to reach out — same with McCain and Pelosi.  Second, there’s the debate tonight.  Nate Silver makes a shrewd point here:   

Perhaps, however, rather than trying to postpone the debate, McCain is instead seeking to increase its importance. Surely the drama of the past 30 hours has made it an even more captivating event, probably leading to increased viewership. Moreover, with the subject matter likely to be expanded to include the economy, and the candidates having had less time to prepare, the entire exercise becomes less predictable, with gaffes more likely to occur, but also the potential for “clutch” performances.

I don’t think McCain intended to do this — that would require long-term thinking and based one what he’s said in the past two weeks I don’t think McCain’s time horizon extends past 12 hours on anything right now.  What matters is that McCain’s actions have undoubtedly upped the ante tonight.  I’ll definitely be live-blogging the debate — so be sure to show up! Have an interesting day! UPDATE:  Slate suggests other McCain gambits that we might see.  My fave — “Sells Alaska to Russia for $700 billion.” More seriously, I’m wondering if McCain will attempt the Albright Maneuver.  When Madeleine Albright was U.N. Ambassador, she would sometmes atten NSC meetings by satellite.  This had the psychological effect of increasing her leverage at the meetings, because she was a giant talking head on a big screen.  I would not be surprised if sometime in the next few hours the McCain campaign offers the following to the Commission on Presidential Debates — “I’m not going to Oxford, MS, but I’ll appear via satellite from my Senate office because I’m working so hard on this bailout.”  Wouldn’t that be the ultimate brinksmanship play? ANOTHER UPDATE:  No Albright Maneuver

Senator McCain has spent the morning talking to members of the Administration, members of the Senate, and members of the House. He is optimistic that there has been significant progress toward a bipartisan agreement now that there is a framework for all parties to be represented in negotiations, including Representative Blunt as a designated negotiator for House Republicans.  The McCain campaign is resuming all activities and the Senator will travel to the debate this afternoon.  Following the debate, he will return to Washington to ensure that all voices and interests are represented in the final agreement, especially those of taxpayers and homeowners.

 Twitter: @dandrezner

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