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Game On - On Friday

9:17 AM, Sep 24, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
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Mark Steyn has some rather pointed observations regarding John McCain's political maneuvers during the economic crisis:

I dunno about a nine-point lead, Kathryn, but clearly the Obama campaign self-destruct effort managed to stall during Bailout Week.

As a general rule, when economic matters are in the news, I would recommend Senator McCain go to Bermuda for a few days and play canasta on the veranda until everything quietens down. Obama and Biden are just as witless on the subject but at least their platitudes and class warfare don't actively depress their base - unlike McCain's nutty improvisations re Andrew Cuomo*. If only we could get back to the heady days when the Democrat-media axis was demanding Sarah Palin's obstetrician produce the birth video.

(*By the way, this is what I loathe about long-serving senators: Politics is all Rolodex.)

The nine-point lead Steyn references is in regards to a new ABC poll that shows McCain trailing Obama by - you guessed it - nine points. Like Steyn, I also "don't know" about the nine-point lead that ABC finds. With the reliable Rasmussen and more volatile Gallup tracking polls both showing a tightening race over the past week, the ABC effort seems like an outlier.

But that surmise shouldn't obscure what a dismal week it's been for the McCain campaign. For reasons of space, I won't document all of the Maverick's pratfalls since the Lehman bankruptcy, but I will observe that McCain sure has shoved a lot of campaigning clumsiness into ten short days. It's hard to believe a candidate not named Biden could produce twin whoppers along the lines of Chris Cox being the economy's grand villain and Andrew Cuomo being its savior in such a brief span of time.

So what has happened politically in the week and a half that we've danced along the cusp of financial calamity? The past fortnight has been the equivalent of the Olympics - no one has paid any attention to the presidential candidates or their increasingly tiresome race. Low end news gatherers (i.e. normal people) will only tackle so much news at one time. Obama's equivocations and McCain's serial stumbles happily haven't made the cut with the Great Depression redux looming. That's why we've seen the race revert back to its historic mean of Obama holding a very slight lead.

But the game will likely resume on Friday with the first presidential debate. If Warren Buffet's show of support combined with the looming passage of some governmental plan settles the markets by the end of the week - admittedly a big "if" - Obama and McCain will have the stage to themselves when they tangle on Friday. Even though the debate is supposed to focus on foreign policy, I have a feeling the economy will come up. Obama will doubtlessly offer up some palaver about Main Street and Wall Street - I love it when he talks about those two places since he understands neither.

As for McCain, who knows what he'll say? We can only hope and expect that he'll improve on his efforts of the past ten days.