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Column: McCain Getting Flustered, Suspending Campaign To Help With 'bailout' Not Admirable

This story was written by Jessica Opoien , Iowa State Daily

In a recent Fox interview, John The Maverick McCain discussed Barack Obamas response in contrast to his own regarding the economic crisis. With a strained chuckle, McCain said that Obama was ahead in the polls because life isnt fair. Like a disappointed toddler, McCain griped about Obamas behavior throughout the economic crisis. He certainly did nothing for the first few days. I suspended my campaign, took our ads down, came back to Washington, met with the House folks and got on the phone, and also had face-to-face meetings.

What exactly was the appropriate response for the candidates in this situation? If McCain is the standard by which were judging Obamas actions or alleged inaction lets break down his statement a bit.

On Sept. 25, McCain announced the temporary suspension of his campaign. In accordance with the suspension, he canceled an appearance on "The Late Show" with David Letterman that was to be taped later that afternoon. Makes sense he was no longer campaigning, so television appearances werent appropriate. Yet after cancelingappearance, he taped an interview with Katie Couric, which aired that evening.

No doubt the interview was imperative to the resuscitation of the economy.

It was admirable of McCain to return to Washington in light of the financial crisis. Was it necessary for him to return prior to the bailout bill vote? Probably not. This is a man who was quoted by the Chicago Tribune in Dec. 2007 as saying, The issue of economics is something that Ive really never understood as well as I should. In 2005, he told the Wall Street Journal, Im going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.

As a presidential candidate, McCain has almost certainly been educated since the time of the Wall Street Journal interview, and hopefully understands the issue of economics more thoroughly than he did at the end of 2007. The issue of whether or not he is economically competent enough to run the country is irrelevant to this argument and should be debated another time. However, its clear that he is not an expert in the fields of finances and economy.

McCains accusation that Obama did nothing begs the question: What was Obama supposed to do? Obama called McCain six hours before McCain suspended his campaign to suggest the candidates issue a joint statement. McCain didnt return Obamas call until 10 minutes before announcing the suspension of his campaign, but that issue is also irrelevant to the point at hand.

Should Obama have suspended his campaign as well? Is that what a presidential candidate should do in the face of an impending crisis? Obama put it best himself when he said its the presidents job to deal with more than one thing at once. As a senator, it was important for Obama to be in Washington for the vote. However, as a presidential candidate, it was important for him to show that he could fulfill several responsibilities at once.

Many things can be said about the effects of campaigning on a candidates presence in the Senate. According to information gathered by Congressional Quarterly, published in USA Today, McCains voting participation dropped from 91 percent in 2006 to 44 percent in 2007; Obamas dropped from 99 percent in 2006 to 66 percent in 2007. However, with fewer than 30 days until the election, presidential fever follows the candidates wherever they go. As important as it is for McCain and Obama to do their jobs as senators, it is also important to consider the effects of bringing the presidential mediaspectacle to Washington during such a crucial time. Senior Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer was quoted in the United Kingdoms Telegraph Herald as saying, They best thing they can do is state their feelings to the American people. We dont need an injection of presidential politics into this.

The fact of the matter is, as senators, these men dont yet have the distinction that the President or the Secretary of the Treasury have in economic matters, and we shouldnt look to them to suddenly be in charge at a time like this. Their responsibility was to become educated about the bailout and to vote accordingly. This close to the election, it is imperative for both McCain and Obama to be sensitive to the possible effects of their respective presence in Washington. While these men are senators, they are also presidential candidates, and that fact is impossible to ignore.

Both John McCain and Barack Obama did what they believed was best for the country during the time surrounding the approval of the bailout bill. However, one of these men showed a hesitance to handle multiple challenges at once by suspending his campaign. The other showed levelheadedness and confidence by demonstrating his willingness to balance the challenges of running for president with working toward an economic solution. Which qualities are most important to you in our nations president?

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