Today, from the viewpoint of a political junkie, was fascinating. Our country is in the grips of a financial crisis and the reaction by the two candidates running for president was very telling.
This financial challenge cannot be laid at the feet of just one political party so that fact alone puts a strain on the brains in Washington. Lehman Brothers going under was bad enough. The political campaigns of Hillary and Barack reaped benefits from donations going their way from that firm. As did many in Congress. McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, has walked away from a business venture with Wall Street since 2006 yet even today the other side touts it like a new scandal. Both presidential campaigns employ lobbyists, former lobbyists and money bundlers. That's politics. Only the naive believe otherwise and those claiming to be above that fray are preying on the naive.
Financial gurus like Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg, and T. Boone Pickens all say the President's people have a plan worth supporting. That is a bi-partisan group of successful guys.
Today John McCain put his country first. He suspended his campaign to go back to Washington to help with the legislation being requested by this administration. Obama blinked. He said he'd remain in Florida, campaigning and cramming for the first debate scheduled Friday on foreign policy. He's used the financial climate in his fund raising. McCain has suspended political ads and fund raising.
Yesterday Harry Reid, Majority Leader of the Senate, said if McCain votes for the pending legislation then the Republicans would, too, and the Democrats would be victorious. Today, after learning McCain was on his way, Reid said McCain isn't needed and it would only be a photo opportunity. Last Friday, Reid and his counterpart, Nancy Pelosi, both said they had no idea what to do. One would think that Reid would welcome any help he could get. But, it's an election year with only just more than 40 days left until the votes are cast.
McCain said his wouldn't be able to do the debate scheduled Friday, if an agreement wasn't made by then. Obama said he could stay briefed via telecommunication and do the debate. We, as observers, were looking at action versus talk.
Tonight the President spoke to the country about the crisis. He did a better than usual delivery of the situation - as a Harvard trained MBA he is comfortable with economic matters - and said he has invited Obama to join in on a meeting with McCain and the leaders of both parties from Congress tomorrow. That was an idea McCain brought to the table.
Obama now realizes he does indeed need to go to Washington. He still has his day job as U.S. Senator and doesn't get to just dictate what he wants Congress to do. His fellow Senators must be wondering what he is talking about. As the figure heads of their parties now, McCain and Obama both working in Washington as this comes together was the only reasonable solution.
Now, as the legislation is said to be nearing completion, McCain and Obama will both be in on the final details. They will be able to bring both sides together, which is their responsibility. Then they can go back and have the debate Friday night in Mississippi.
Leadership is more than speeches. Leadership is more than over confidence in your role in the grand scheme of things. Leadership is rising above your own personal political ambitions and doing what is right for the country.
Today, McCain did the right thing for the country. Obama blinked. Obama thought that by calmly doing a press conference explaining that he'd stay put and wait to be briefed, he showed he was in control. Instead, the President had to call him and say, come on, come to the meeting and be involved. Good for President Bush.
Bush and McCain are used to working with both sides of the aisle. It showed today.