Did McCain “blink?”

That’s how Obama supporters and some of Obama’s MSM cheerleaders are spinning John McCain’s decision to participate in tonight’s debate. It’s possible, I suppose, that undecided voters might view it that way.

On the other hand, I suspect that McCain has acted precisely the way most of these voters would want a prospective president to act. They would want him to leave the campaign trial to attempt to bring about needed legislation. And they would want him, if possible given the status of negotiations, to appear for the debate.

JOHN agrees: This is being spun as a defeat for McCain. Perhaps so, but it is hard to quarrel with either his initial decision to suspend campaigning in favor of trying to help broker a compromise on the bailout, or his current decision to break off that effort long enough to participate in the debate.

It has become clear that, contrary to some initial reports, serious obstacles remain to any compromise. Specifically, House Democrats won’t enact the bailout (as they could) without the support of House Republicans, from whom the want “cover,” and House Republicans won’t sign on to the deal unless they think it makes more sense for taxpayers. Under these conditions, nothing is likely to happen in the next few hours. So McCain may as well head down to Mississippi.

Politically, he probably needs to debate Obama tonight. It is clear that the present economic crisis is helping Obama, who is up five points in today’s Rasmussen tracking poll. This is unjust, obviously, as the Democrats bear primary responsibility for the crisis. But there is nothing new about that. McCain needs to do something to stem Obama’s momentum, and the debate is his best opportunity.

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