The old maverick---the John McCain so many liberals claimed to have always liked and miss oh-so-terribly---is now back. McCain is a gambler. It is his pattern. The young flyboy who took chances---some ending in heroic success, some ending in fiery crashes----has returned. (Still waiting for the libs to re-embrace the maverick with open arms.) He threw the dice with the surge. He won. He threw the dice by sticking out his presidential campaign. He won. He threw the dice with Governor Palin. He won.
And now he throws the dice over the behemoth known as the financial bailout package.
With his move yesterday to suspend his campaign, call for a postponement of Friday night's debate, and return dramatically to Washington, McCain upended this campaign---once again----in ways his younger but far more tentative opponent could never do. In one fell swoop, McCain pulled the rug out from Obama, stopped his momentum on economic issues, reframed the economic debate, and took control of the negotiations, even from the president.
While McCain was doing that, Obama was washing up.
Senator Deer in the Headlights is doing what he does best: gassing around about an issue in an obtuse and ambiguous way, not saying much of anything at all, while contemplating his navel.
This gets right to the heart of Obama's problem. By huge majorities, voters believe Obama is a "talker." An eloquent and gifted talker, but a talker. They also believe McCain is a "doer." Sometimes a clumsy doer, but a true hands-on, pedal-to-the-metal doer.
While Obama issues more cotton candy spin about dealing with the economy head-on, McCain is actually doing it. The fate of this bill rests with McCain, and he knows it. He's the only one who can deliver the Republicans, and he's the only one who can deliver the administration. He's running against Bush, so it's in his interest to be seen opposing the president on this. He's also running against Obama, who holds no cards, and who looked like a kid at the grown-ups' table during today's meeting at the White House.
Will it be deal, or no deal? McCain is running the show. How will he deal with conservatives? How will he deal with the Democrats? How will he deal with the president? The timetable is his.
The flyboy is back. His flight is perilous. But with high risk, comes great reward.