Jeffrey Toobin injects a much-needed dose of reality into a panel discussion on "The Situation Room" about John McCain's decision to "suspend" his campaign and postpone the debate.
TOOBIN: Well, can I just quarrel with the premise of this? Who says he suspended his campaign? He didn't suspend his campaign. He's been campaigning all day. He gave a speech in New York. He's giving interviews all night. He's raising money. His surrogates are attacking Barack Obama.
I think this is posturing of being apolitical. And, frankly, I think we're being kind of gullible in falling for it. He didn't stop his campaign. He's campaigning. Now whether it's successful or not...
HAYES: He's pulled his ads down, too, Wolf.
TOOBIN: No, he didn't pull his ads down. His ads have been on. And he's done exactly what Obama has done all day. And Obama admits that he's campaigning. It's the middle of the campaign. I don't see why we should treat what he's doing as anything different from what Obama is doing.
Toobin also goes on to say that McCain would look like a "chicken" if he decides to skip out on Friday's debate, which leads to a nice little exchange with right-wing water-carrier Stephen Hayes. I really don't see how it's possible for McCain to bail out. I guess we'll find out later today, but I think AL may be onto something:
Earlier today, well before the contentious meeting at the White House, I wrote this:
[H]ere's the most likely McCain play. He'll swoop in, read through the compromise proposal that's been reached and declare that it's unacceptable in its present form. He'll then demand that something either be added or removed (or both) and use his leverage (his threat to vote no) to get the bill changed. Then he'll vote for the amended bill and take full credit for having made this crucially important change (whatever it is). His surrogates will claim that the whole episode shows McCain's heroic leadership, the way he takes charge of a situation.
I still think this is still the most likely scenario. Right now the major holdouts are the House Republicans who have come up with their own half-baked alternative proposal (really just a set a talking points). Look for McCain to attempt to broker some sort of compromise whereby the existing proposal is modified in some minor way to appease House Republicans and bring a few more of them on board. Then he'll jet down to Mississippi for the debate.