A media meme seems to be taking shape today after yesterday's House vote on the bailout package: The McCain camp really, really stepped in it this time:
The headline this morning on ABC's The Note is "The Wreckage," which refers to the running aground of the S.S. McCain during the past few days. Here's my favorite part:
The failed vote was a failure of leadership, a historic misreading of the country's mood -- and it came after a clanker of a move by a presidential candidate who is still looking for a way to make economic issues his own. . .
Team McCain, in the aftermath: "This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country," said McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin, per ABC's John Berman and Ron Claiborne.
But didn't the bill also fail because Republicans voted by a 2-1 margin against their president, their presidential candidate, and their leadership? . . .
(How many years does McCain need to be in Congress before he learns how the place works -- and that you better accomplish your mission before declaring that you did so?)
More after the jump.
The Note doesn't stop there, either. It compiles a ton of other media reactions basically talking about how stupid the McCain campaign is, sometimes in not-so-thinly-veiled language. So a hat to tip to the good folks at ABC for everything you see here.
McCain invested more political capital than anyone else in a deal that went bad. . . .[A]fter the bailout bill fell apart, McCain was left with little room to argue he had helped the process. So, he fired a few partisan shots.
Then came Steven Hurst at the AP:
All in all, McCain might have been better served by staying out of the mess and above the fray.
If the congressional impasse leads to a credit crisis, "it's not going to be good for McCain," veteran Republican consultant John Feehery said. . .
McCain has been routinely wrong-footed on the slumping U.S. economy throughout the campaign, starting last year when he said he was not as up on that subject as he would like to be.
Polls consistently have shown voters place greater trust in Obama to pull the country out of a financial crisis that has not been matched since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
McCain — apparently obsessed with those facts — gambled last Wednesday by declaring he had suspended campaigning to bring his considerable bipartisan credentials [Ed. Note: Heh] to bear in congressional negotiations with the Bush administration.
[I]f McCain wanted credit for passage, should he share some of the blame for its defeat?
Two thirds of half Republicans voted for its defeat...after a weekend of telephone call diplomacy from McCain.
Nancy Pelosi may have given a partisan speech, but she was able to get most of her Democrats on board....
Next up to the pinata, Jackie Calmes of the New York Times:
As a study in his prospective leadership, the role of Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, has done him no political good. After suspending his campaign last week and vowing to work with Republicans until a resolution was in hand, Mr. McCain was campaigning in Ohio on Monday with his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, as the House vote commenced. There he implicitly took credit for the compromise bailout that Congressional leaders had negotiated over the weekend, even as it was going down to defeat . . .
Even before the vote, House Republicans had trouble pointing to any contributions from Mr. McCain to their deliberations since late last week, when he and they forced the administration officials and Congressional leaders to reopen negotiations and alter the package to impose some safeguards for taxpayers’ billions.
But the icing on the cake comes from the fact that even the National Freaking Review realizes that McCain should be wearing a dunce cap. Per Rich Lowry:
The vote is a blow to John McCain, who had so dramatically "suspended" his campaign to return to DC and broker a deal. His campaign had explained his role as bringing to the table and coaxing along House Republicans, whose revolt now makes him look ineffectual.
I could go on all day with these, but you get the idea.
The Note also provides this nice little tidbit on who the public holds responsible for this failure of leadership:
Whose fault is it? The new ABC News/Washington Post poll has the blame falling on congressional Republicans instead of Democrats, by a 44-21 split. And 25 percent of respondents singled out President Bush as being behind the crisis -- compared to 8 percent who say it's Congress' fault.
The Republicans aren't spinning 'round the drain yet. There still are just too many people who are called to arms by the 3 Gs and who'd rather lose their homes than see someone from the party of Satan in the White House. But the media seems to finally be getting it: McCain's unstable campaign is reeeaaallly teetering. And once it falls off that wall, all of Rove's horses and all of Bush's men won't be able to put it together again.
UPDATE: Haha. Even the financial papers are calling McCain out now. This is from Mark Glassman over at SmartMoney - quite possibly the best market beat writer out there, IMHO:
Before the House vote, both presidential candidates said they would support the bill in the Senate. In an ironic political misstep for the Republican party, the McCain campaign seized credit for the bailout plan hours before it failed, according to AFP.
Thanks for the tips and recs, folks.
UPDATE 2: I can't do a screenshot, but the CNN frontpage headline now reads "McCain takes hit from bailout collapse." Here's a link to the article. Apples and honey for the first person who posts a screenshot.
Here are the highlights. The money quote is at the end:
The Republican presidential nominee raised the stakes for himself last week when he suspended his campaign and returned to Washington for negotiations over a solution to the financial crisis.
"Even before the House vote, voters blamed Republicans more than Democrats for the crisis. Then McCain suspended his campaign to come back to Washington to rally support for a rescue plan," said Bill Schneider, a CNN political analyst. "He failed, so he gets blamed by both supporters and opponents of the rescue plan."
After the vote, McCain was defensive, accusing his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, of just wanting to "phone it in" when it came to the bailout and introducing partisanship into the process. . .
Terry Jeffries, a Republican strategist and CNN contributor, also said McCain may have hurt himself among conservatives by losing sight of his party's free-market principles.
"I think that John McCain failed to lead," Jeffries said.
Let that be his epitaph.