Do I Want What He’s Having?

There are times I wonder what John McCain is smoking.

I just read the CNN article on McCain’s and Obama’s reaction to the failure to pass the economic recovery bill in the house.

Obama’s reaction?

Obama told voters at a campaign event in Denver, Colorado, that it’s important to “stay calm, because things are never smooth in Congress.”

“There are going to be some bumps and trials and tribulations and ups and downs before we get this rescue package done,” he said. “I’m confident that we are going to get there, but it’s going to be a little rocky.”

Nice and measured. Something that calms people, doesn’t induce panic. Obama also indicated that he was on the phone right after the vote with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and congressional leaders.

Now, McCain’s reaction?

“Their partisan attacks were an effort to gain political advantage during a national economic crisis. By doing so, they put at risk the homes, livelihoods and savings of millions of American families,” Doug Holtz-Eakin, a senior policy adviser for McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, said in a statement.

“Barack Obama failed to lead, phoned it in, attacked John McCain and refused to even say if he supported the final bill. … This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country,” he said.

Now, the house vote was 140 Democrats and 65 Republicans voting in favor and 95 Democrats joining 133 Republicans against. That’s 60% of the Democratic caucus in favor, and 30% of the Republicans. To me, it looks like the Democrats delivered a majority of their caucus… and I’m sure that Obama is doing what he can to convince the others to change their vote. McCain could only deliver a minority of his caucus: you should expect the leader of their party to at least be able to deliver their party, and if bi-partisan, to deliver more from the other side as well. McCain didn’t demonstrate he could deliver his party.

So where is the failure of leadership? If the Republican leadership cannot reliably deliver Republican support, is that leadership? The Democrats delivered the majority of their caucus. The Republicans didn’t. So don’t blame the Democrats for this failure.

Now, I’m not trying to say this bill is the best thing since sliced bread. But our representational form of government means you make compromises, and sometimes have to do something not 100% perfect, and then amend it later. Right now, our credit markets are frozen: ask anyone trying to refinance before their loan adjusts or they lose more equity. We do need to do something now.