The show must go on

As long as little Johnny McCain gets his way, the first presidential debate of 2008 will take place Friday. McCain is taking credit for leadership in the $700 Billion bailout negotiations. McCain swooped down on D.C. like he was still in his Navy fighter jet to grab this economic bull by the horns and steer the economy (and his poll numbers) back in the right direction. By his side was the omnipresent “Say it ain’t so, Joe” Lieberman — just in case he has to correct McCain when he confuses Freddie Mac with the late Bernie Mac. It’s amazing how Lieberman’s lips never move when McCain talks.

McCain grabbed the headlines yesterday when he suspended his campaign to deal with the economic Hindenberg. What he really accomplished was to save money by getting free air time with his political razzle-dazzle. Free air time without spending a dime — while sticking it to those news organizations his camp says is pro-Obama. And the news media follow like ducks in a row. They drop his name more than they do going to a segue for commercials. Hey, new idea for a campaign ad: “Barack Obama — the calm before the storm. John McCain — he’s money in the bank.”

McCain relishes tapping into the anger of the American people.He over-reacts to every crisis. He suspends his campaign; he won’t debate until we have successful victory over this war on Wall Street. The reformer is a reactionary. Stop the world, McCain wants his way. He’s like a spoiled child who stomps his feet until he gets the toy he wants. And the media are the parents who give in just to get him to shut up. Obama has it right: a president needs to handle more than one crisis at one time. Who will come out of this one with credibility? The debate rages on.

Speaking of debates, the last Democrat who did well in this forum was John F. Kennedy way back in 1960. That’s because he was debating Dick Nixon — Mr. Five-O’clock shadow with the beady eyes. The guy who looked like he sold you on the Edsel — or, more appropriate for what was in store for him — the sweaty knave who looked like he was being grilled by the cops because his alibi didn’t hold water.

When McCain and Obama were practicing for the debate, someone was a stand-in for each candidate’s opponent. Obama’s opponent stand-in was Yogi Berra — so Obama could get all the yucks out of his system when McCain doubles down on his malapropisms. McCain’s opponent stand-in was Chris Rock — who was designed to scare the bejesus out of the old coot, as well as inspiring him to transpose some of Rock’s more radical statements onto Obama. A challenge Karl Rove wouldn’t take lightheartedly.

DON’T DUPE DAVE

McCain may get style points for suspending his campaign — but that may be the price he had to pay to subject himself to the wrath of David Letterman. McCain was supposed to be on Letterman’s show Wednesday, but canceled because he had to be president now. Letterman — a master at taking a single topic and running it into the ground (often times to annoying results) was not amused at the cancellation. Dave was relentless in his drubbing of McCain, saying something “smelled” about all this. Dave wondered if McCain was elected, would he at some time suspend being president. “We have someone like that now,” Dave quipped. Things got even worse for McCain when Letterman got a hold of the candidate’s interview with Katie Couric — conducted the same time he could’ve been on “The Late Show” trading barbs with Dave. Letterman said McCain told him personally that he was getting on a plane racing to D.C. Dave went rabid and yelled over the video of McCain and Couric “You need a ride to the airport, senator!” It was achingly funny. Letterman is at his best when he’s P.O.’d at someone who duped him. And the Number One reason you don’t dupe Dave: “I’ll rip you a new one, lunchmeat!”

The McCain campaign said he canceled the Letterman gig because the senator didn’t want to do comedy in light of the economic crisis. Which makes sense, since McCain’s campaign over the last several days has been a comedy of errors.

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