I don’t really know what you expect to hear, here. In the end, McCain is signing off to some extent. He has to, he’s the leader of the campaign.
Now, I read in Rolling Stone ( I realize it’s biased, but just hear me out ) that Rove might just be having a greater influence in the campaign than appears. It’s the latest Matt Taibbi article if you’re interested. I think that in tough economic times, these tactics are backfiring.
Why didn’t McCain come out against the bailout? It’s obviously because he thought the best position was to be for it. From what I remember of the polls at the time it was equally split between support / don’t support / don’t know. What that means to me is that there’s really no good position. Once he saw the bill would pass he tried to swoop in and take credit so he could be in a better position on the economy. It was a huge failure on his part, I believe, as his “campaign suspension” was pretty clearly seen as a farce.
McCain could have gone against Obama and such but now it’s far too late. What McCain’s problem was is that he went too Rovian this summer. Remember the stupid Paris Hilton ad? That was a bare attempt to try to paint Obama as the “other.” The Republicans felt that they’d get more mileage out of painting Obama as a terrorist or as an elitist rather than finding contradictions in his record.
I think you’re mis-remembering about the bailout bill. Obama didn’t really play a huge part in it (Neither did McCain for that matter…) It was this thing that came from President Bush and the public was divided. Bucking Bush’s bill for no particular reason at all would have been worse. Maybe if he had some kind of alternative he could have put forward, then yes. But that was McCain’s problem in general. He was late to the whole thing. He couldn’t come up with an alternative because he didn’t get there fast enough. It was already coming together when he got to DC.
If you really want to know why McCain is making so many bad choices I can tell you. His choices had been fine up until he started losing, right? You have no idea how anything will play until you try it out. McCain was pretty successful until the market went down the tubes. An Obama victory was far from assured. The problem is that all of a winner’s tactics are good ones. When you start losing people start asking questions. McCain was blindsided by this mess and has little room. He’s stuck between his rabid base, the economic conservatives who loathe the former, and the current President to whom he is linked. That’s a much tougher job than appealing to a unified Democratic party. You complain that he’s not hitting hard enough on character issues, when others complain that he’s got zero economic policy out there. That’s the Republicans. If I were Republican, I’d be pulling my hair out about McCain’s complete stupidity to go personal. He’s completely ceded the economy and it has even leaked that he’s said as much!
I don’t think McCain didn’t really want to win. What I think happened was that McCain really wanted for it to be him and Joe Lieberman and rule from the center. I think he probably had some true reformer ideals that he wanted to implement (giving the benefit of the doubt). But he decided at some point to let the Rovian thugs in and make it personal and take cheap shots on Obama. At some point he must have said, “Do whatever you have to do to get me elected, and I’ll sign off.” That got him Palin. But this is not 2004 or 2000. The economic crisis was long-coming and he refused to take any shot at being economically competent. He should have done that. Ever second he or his surrogates have their mouths open talking about Ayers is another missed opportunity to talk about the economy and raise his economic XP a little (role playing dork term). He’s consistently avoided talking about the economy. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t do much about it in the Senate, the undecideds aren’t that smart. What was the most ludicrous to me was that last weekend he announced his intention to make the election about “Barack Obama and his Associations.” When the DOW sheds 7 percent a day, you can’t win doing that.
He has to come up with some economic alternative to Obama and Bush’s past 8 years and do it in a way that doesn’t appear to be another gimmick.
So the answer to your question is that he miscalculated. He simply didn’t have the foresight to see the economy being the big issue. Either that, or he thought Rovian smears could somehow trump the pocketbook. The answer to that is a resounding no, as I’ve seen reports of even racists begrudgingly wanting to support Obama because of their economic fears.