On Wednesday night, George W Bush emerged for the second time in two days — a little creepy, like something out of Sunset Boulevard — to address the nation on the gathering crisis. God knows what his staff are pumping him full of, but it’s keeping him upright at the price of eating him away from the inside. Has anyone ever looked less like they wanted to be addressing the nation at this time? Has anyone ever wanted more to be on their ranch at Crawford, clearing brush?

BUSH: Many Americans have felt worry … I understand their fear and their frustration … we are in the midst of a serious financial crisis … I urge Congress to provide much needed money.

My God, can you imagine how Clinton or Reagan would be eating up this moment, to reassure the nation, to shine, to lead – even if Ronnie would have thought he was addressing a March of Dimes rally in 1943 (Google it).

It was another bizarre day, a situation military strategists describe as fluid. In the morning, apparently, Barack Obama had called Walnuts McCain and suggested they put out a joint statement on the economy. By 2.30pm Walnuts had called Obama back and agreed and confirmed his statement of the previous night that he was going back to Washington and suspending his campaign, i.e. continuing his campaign in Washington.

BUSH: How did our economy reach this point … for more than a decade money flowed into America from overseas because we were so secure HA! (microphone bumping hilariously)

McCain also suggested that Friday’s debate (which is on foreign policy) be postponed so that everyone could deal with this crisis. Senate leader Harry Reid then called McCain to say that he wasn’t actually needed in Washington and would stuff the whole thing up in any case. By late afternoon, Obama had told McCain he wasn’t suspending his campaign no way no how, and Ole Miss, the universitty where it was happening had said it was going on even if neither of them turned up, which was odd.

BUSH: How did this financial crisis come about … that’s not a rhetorical question I have no idea … here’s how it happened … once upon a time there were two bad bears called Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac … 

What was Walnuts thinking? This was a velly velly strange way of doing things, making him a plaintive petitioner to Barack Obama. Obviously it was an attempt to build on the theme of “country first”, but it simply looked like cutting and running. Is the McCain camp genuinely worried that, without Joe Lieberman by his side, he will simply screw up too much, talking about the defence of Formosa from the Teutonic Knights etc etc? Maybe they’re simply working on the idea that the man needs his sleep before such an event, and that he just can’t get that while having to focus on the economic stuff.

BUSH: With the situation becoming worse by the day I faced a choice … hide under the bed or go to Crawford. But they found me and put me in front of the microphone …

However, by far the worst result of McCain’s move may have been p-ssing off David Letterman, on whose show he had been due to appear last night. McCain cancelled, and Letterman, after paying credit to his heroism proceeded to tear him apart.

BUSH: Ultimately we could face a long and painful recession … (DEPRESSION GEORGE, DEPRESSION.)

LETTERMAN: OK he’s a hero, but don’t you think if you cancelled you’d send your second in command along — but where is she? She’s nowhere.

PAUL: She’s hot.

LETTERMAN: She’s driving around in the white van waiting to pick him up.

BUSH: Under my plan seven hundred billion dollars will be given to the financial market….wow am I f-cking doing this?

Letterman then cut to pre-feed of CBS where McCain was having his cancers dusted by a make-up girl before talking to Katie Couric.

BUSH: Over the years there have been various proposals to update our twenty first century economy from its twentieth century … and I have sh-t on them all …

Where indeed is Palin? The previous day there was a press revolt — and to get the pusillanimous American press up and yelling you gotta be really obnoxious — when they were refused entry, save for photographers, to Palin’s meeting with various leaders. Today, we got the word from the Pakistani president regarding the Republican representative. She was “gorgeous”. Doh.

Where is Palin indeed? As the crisis has proceeded apace, she’s just been ignored, for the joke person she is. Team McCain don’t want her anywhere near a microphone, and the press has no great desire to put one in front of her — although she already had an interview with Katie Couric, which is frikkin hilarious. Here’s the best bits:

SARAH PALIN: My understanding is that Rick Davis recused himself from the dealings of the firm. I don’t know how long ago, a year or two ago that he’s not benefiting from that. And you know, I was — I would hope that’s not the case.

KATIE COURIC: But he still has a stake in the company so isn’t that a conflict of interest?

PALIN: (eight second pause) Again, my understanding is that he recused himself from the dealings with Freddie and Fannie, any lobbying efforts on his part there.

But this is the zinger:

COURIC: You’ve said, quote, “John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business.” Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?

PALIN: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie — that, that’s paramount. That’s more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.

COURIC: But he’s been in Congress for 26 years. He’s been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.

PALIN: He’s also known as the maverick though, taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he’s been talking about — the need to reform government.

COURIC: But can you give me any other concrete examples? Because I know you’ve said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?

PALIN: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.

COURIC: I’m just going to ask you one more time — not to labor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation?

PALIN: I’ll try to find you some and I’ll bring them to you.

He’s also known as the Maverick though … oh magic. The whole thing is here. It’s almost as good as the Youtube video which shows Palin being protected from evil spirits by the laying on of hands her crazy Kenyan pastor in Wasilla. Frik what a day this was.

With McCain hanging from a twig like the “oh sh-t” kitten, Obama stepped in for the kill. I’m joking, of course he didn’t. Though it may make no difference, the lumbering Obama campaign was blindsided by McCain stealing the initiative. That barely worked for Walnuts, but then Dubya helped him out by summoning both to a Thursday meeting at the White House, which Obama agreed to.

Here’s what Obama should have said:

Today, John McCain suggested we suspend the first presidential debate on foreign policy because of the financial crisis. Well I am happy to change the topic from foreign to domestic policy, but let me make it clear: I will be in Oxford Mississippi on Friday night, whether Senator Mccain is there or not, and if he is not I will take any and all questions on any matter from the audience for two hours, and the networks can broadcast that or not as they wish.

Whoever becomes President will be dealing with this crisis for some time to come, and the American people have a right to hear what we think about these vital matters. It should be easily possible for both the Paulson plan and the debate to be attended to – this is after all the sort of mutliple challenges a President would face. Senator McCain seems to believe that debate between the two candidates for the highest office is not important, which strikes me as pure contempt for the American people and the democratic process.

Here’s what he said:

Ah well you know, I’ve been on the phone with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and you know this is exactly the time we need to hear from the person who will be uhhhh leader in the next 40 days and uh I think you should be able to both things at once. Whine whine whine besides I called first.

That last bit was his aides, not Obama, but f-ck if these people don’t win, they need to put up against a wall.

BUSH: This is our opportunity to show the world that Americans are … a nation with ADD incapable of anything other than two speeds, backwards and panic … I made that last bit up. I made that last bit up, I made that last bit up … 

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey