Just a few months ago, John McCain said: "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should. I've got Greenspan's book." I don't know how an economist's autobiography was supposed to help him, but oh well.
Just ten days ago, John McCain said that the fundamentals of the United States economy are strong. He quickly had to walk back those comments, and pretend that he didn't really mean what he obviously meant.
A few days later, in a strange attempt to appear decisive and in-control, McCain called for the firing of the SEC chairman. The Wall Street Journal deemed this move "false and deeply unfair," "unpresidential," and demonstrating that McCain "doesn't understand what's happening on Wall Street." Conservative columnist George Will said that McCain "is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high," and accused him of "fact-free slander."
Just two days ago, John McCain was asked about the Bush administration's financial proposals, and he responded: "I have not had a chance to see it in writing. I have to examine it."
Now, for some reason, McCain is trying to grab leadership over the very difficult and complex economic crisis (which he didn't even think was a crisis 10 days ago), and trying to call off Friday's Presidential debate in order to negotiate some sort of grand economic plan (but he's not calling off his appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative). This is the same McCain who has been absent from the Senate since April 10.
As Mitt Romney once said, McCain "doesn’t understand how the economy works." He is the last person to grab leadership over this issue. It seems pretty obvious to me that he's just trying to get out of the debate.
UPDATE: It looks like McCain's stunt is failing.
UPDATE II: According to Barney Frank: "It's the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys."
UPDATE III: Josh Marshall seems to have it right:
"Bringing the presidential candidates and their press entourages back to Capitol Hill won't speed or improve the process of coming up with a good bailout deal. It will politicize it. That's so transparently obvious that it barely requires stating. And of course that is the point.
By going public with his 'suspension' announcement as a breaking news statement McCain intended to make any agreement between the candidate impossible. Contrast that with Obama's campaign, which apparently tried to get both campaigns to agree on a common set of principles privately before going public. There's no logical reason there can't be a presidential debate while a bailout plan is being negotiated."