Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Will McCain show he's a 'great man'?

They may be premature, but the political obituaries for McCain's presidential campaign are starting to appear. Even some conservatives are looking into the abyss. Michael Gerson, the former Bush speechwriter, sees McCain as a "great man" who was "ambushed by history."

But if McCain is a great man, why didn't he shape the history that confronted him? That's what great political leaders -- Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman, Reagan -- did. McCain, in contrast, seems to have morphed into an impulsive erratic, not always coherent pol in the last stage of his campaign. His choice of Sarah Palin as running mate -- just as the tsunami of the financial crisis was creating its first ominous ripples -- is not just laughable but scary. His "suspension" of his campaign to get back to Washington and on top of the bailout turned into a charade. After initially insisting that the "fundamentals" of the American economy were intact, McCain is now producing a new, major fix on what looks like a daily basis.

His opponent, Obama, has been no model of leadership in the financial crisis, but, as even Republicans are noticing, his calmness is reassuring in the fearful public climate.

The presidential debate tonight may be McCain's last chance to prove he has greatness in him. He's being urged to use the time to "expose" Obama. But that's not greatness, that's just another campaign pit stop -- the last one.

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