News item, Friday morning: John McCain says he's satisfied with the progress on the bailout talks in Washington, and therefore intends to debate Barack Obama tonight in Mississippi.
McCain's statement, after it is scanned by the hogwash detector: "Well, it looks like I just crashed another plane. First I tried to duck the debate by claiming that I had to put 'country first' by going to Washington to lead the bailout negotiations, and by claiming that I would refuse to debate unless or until a bailout deal was done. But now here I am declaring my intention to debate even though a bailout deal is not done. Maybe nobody will notice that I am cutting and running from my own pledge; maybe nobody will notice the pledge itself was just political cover for cutting and running from the debate. No such luck, I guess. Even Laura Ingraham said on the radio that my no-debate strategy was 'gimmicky' and 'a huge mistake.'
"What a relief to get out of Washington. If I stayed too long and signed on with Bush and the Democrats, my conservative base would call me a big-government socialist and the press would call me chicken for dodging the debate. If I stayed up there and sided too visibly with the conservative House Republicans, and a deal got scuttled because of them, I could get blamed later for precipitating a Great Depression. My friends, this economics stuff sure is complicated, and I hope none of it comes up at the debate tonight.
"Things could always be worse, however. If all this Wall Street business wasn't going on, more people might be noticing the story in today's Washington Post, about how Gov. Palin has accepted $25,000 worth of gifts from folks doing business with her state, in violation of the law. Maybe I can still get away with her calling an 'original maverick.' Better yet, maybe Russia will invade somebody before the debate starts, so that I can walk off and show leadership. We are all Georgians. Failing that, there are always other options. If my poll numbers look terrible a few weeks from now, I can always call for the cancellation of election day, because nothing is more important than our national interest."