Rolling the dice – McCain heads back to Washington

Call me a cynic but McCain’s announcement, that he’s suspending his campaign and returning to Washington to work on the bailout package, is anything but a ‘non-political’ move.

Today’s Washington Post poll – the same one that put McCain nine points behind Obama nationally  ave the Democrat a big edge amongst voters concerned about the economy. Last week’s gaffes – “the fundamentals of the economy are strong” – have not helped what was already McCain’s acknowledged weak issue.

By dramatically abandoning his campaign and returning to Washington McCain is attempting to retake the issue; to portray himself as a strong force who can swoop down on Washington and work above party politics to get this mess fixed. In the face of sliding poll numbers he is hoping to

It is of course a big gamble. The Obama campaign has already hit back hard with “can’t you do more than one thing at once”-style taunts. The big problem, however, is that it’s not altogether clear that this roll of the dice is going to work. How exactly is McCain expecting to be able to sort out the bailout plan? It’s already gridlocked and, for all the bipartisan blustery, McCain’s arrival is going to further politicize an already heated issue.

(Admittedly Democratic) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in reaction: “it would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process. We need leadership; not a campaign photo op.” McCain is setting himself up for a big fall here. By returning to Washington he is placing all his chips on a rapid compromise being passed. If that doesn’t happen McCain will be in big trouble.