Could The Bailout Deal Doom Mccain?

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Update: No deal for now. Original item follows.

On MSNBC Pat Buchanan says McCain risks "tossing away his last chance to win the presidency" if he signs onto the bailout deal as it appears to be shaping up. Buchanan says that conservatives will reward to a payoff for Wall Street fat cats with the fury they directed at McCain's support for illegal-immigrant "amnesty" a year-plus ago.

Fascinating! I do get the sense that the "elite" media people I read and talk with are paying too far little attention to the apparent rage brewing in the country about this deal. A senior Democratic Congressional aide told me today that constituent calls were running about 200-1 against the bailout, and that Congressional web servers were freezing up from the volume of furious email.

Still: Can McCain afford to reject the deal now, after proclaiming how essential it is to the economy? Probably not. It's possible that the disaster for him here lies not in the theatrics of suspending his campaign and skipping the debate, but in a populist revolt from the far right much like the one that nearly doomed his primary candidacy.

Update--The Boehner Ultimatum!: To the extent McCain is now invested in passing a deal, the House GOP probably does him a favor by resisting it, as they now are (in a way today's coverage didn't anticipate). Many Republicans have real qualms about a massive federal bailout plan. But it's also be in McCain's interest--and therefore in the interest of Republicans generally--for the deal to get dragged out a day or two longer. That

a) gives McCain an excuse to skip tomorrow's debate and

b) allows him to claim that he really did play a role here, convincing Republicans that the national interest required their support. (The word from Democrats in Congress is that they need substantial GOP support to pass a plan, lest they find themselves dangerously exposed politically.)

Caveat: This scenario does heighten the McCain-disaster risk that Pat Buchanan described: If a deal winds up being struck and it looks like JSM forced reluctant Hill Republicans to sell out, an outraged base could tear him a new one....

--Michael Crowley

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