News item, Wednesday afternoon: John McCain announces that he is "suspending" his presidential campaign in order to return to Washington and help honcho the Wall Street deal - and he requests that the first presidential debate, scheduled for Friday evening, be canceled/postponed/suspended.
McCain's statement, after it is scanned by the hogwash detector: "It's clear that my poll numbers are crashing this week - even the Fox News pollsters have me going south - so I've got to try to do something, anything, to stop the slide. Which is why I want to stage a retreat from the first debate. Politically, the timing is very bad for me. I sure don't want to stand at some lectern and watch that upstart mock me for saying that 'the fundamentals of the economy are strong.' I don't want to be asked why I switched overnight from my long-held belief in deregulation to my newly-held belief in regulation. And I don't want Obama to remind people that he gave a speech, way back in March, talking about lax oversight of the sub-prime crisis and calling for major reform of regulatory policies. I know it's supposed to be a foreign policy debate, but there's no way this economy thing is going to be kept out.
"Heck, this economy thing is so big right now that my whole foreign-policy message is going to get drowned out. The polls already show that Obama is more trusted on the economy by double-digit margins, so why would I want to appear in front of the American people on Friday night and risk further erosion? That's why I'd rather go back to Washington, play the 'country first' card, try to look like a statesman, and if Obama doesn't do the same, maybe I can flail him for putting 'country second.' I'm not a member of any of the relevant Senate committees, of course, but maybe the American people won't notice that. Carly Fiorina, that annoying surrogate of mine, said the other day that I'm not qualified to run a corportation, so I'll show her that I can run a negotiation. I'll just march right in there and say, 'Drill, baby, drill'...No wait, that's the wrong crisis.
"Anyway, here's my overall message: I want to cut and run from the presidential debate. I wonder if I can get away with this. Or, failing that, I wonder if they'll let me bring Gov. Palin on stage to stand beside me at the lectern. The crowds seem to like her...No wait, I have a better idea. There's no way Palin can be adequately prepped for her scheduled debate next Thursday; her learning curve is way too steep. So I'm simply gonna suggest that we reschedule the first presidential debate for next Thursday - and that way I can keep her under wraps until whenever. If the press whines about all this, I'll just remind everyone that I always put country first."
You think I'm kidding about that Palin gambit? Nope.