Lawmakers say they are unlikely to take action before, or to delay, their planned adjournments -- Sept. 26 for the House of Representatives, a week later for the Senate. While they haven't ruled out returning after the Nov. 4 elections, they would rather wait until next year unless Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, who are leading efforts to contain the crisis, call for help.Now that's leadership. But of course Paulson and Bernanke did ask for help and poor Harry had to stick around in Washington and actually try to get something done. One of his first orders of business was to cover his ass--or more specifically that of his party--by insisting that McCain come to Washington and take the blame for the bailout if it proved unpopular.
One reason, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday, is that "no one knows what to do at the moment."
We need, now, the Republicans to start producing some votes for us. We need the Republican nominee for president to let us know where he stands and what we should do.Note of course he doesn't call for the Democratic nominee for president to come to Washington and tell Congress what to do. Of course, you know what happens next. McCain makes the unprecedented move of suspending his presidential campaign and heading to D.C. to do exactly what Reid suggested was needed. Now that he is on the way, Reid is ecstatic, right? Or maybe he is taking credit for McCain's actions? Neither of the above. Instead we get this statement.
"This is a critical time for our country," says the Reid statement. "While I appreciate that both candidates have signaled their willingness to help, Congress and the administration have a process in place to reach a solution to this unprecedented financial crisis. I understand that the candidates are putting together a joint statement at Sen. Obama’s suggestion. But it would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation’s economy. If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership; not a campaign photo op. If there were ever a time for both candidates to hold a debate before the American people about this serious challenge, it is now.”Make up your mind Harry. Of course, this statement makes little sense. The Friday debate topic was foreign policy, not the economy. So there would be little debate about this "serious challenge". (Though I've read one suggestion that, if the debate happens, McCain should request the topic be changed to the economy. As Obama has spent the last two days sequestered seemingly cramming for foreign policy questions, this would be a interesting maneuver.)
It is still very unclear who will benefit the from McCain's decision to suspend his campaign--McCain or Obama. As foggy as that consequence is, it equally clear that regardless of who wins, Harry Reid loses.