September 26th, 2008
12:20 PM ET

Raw Politics: Bets on Today

David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

As we wind through one of the zaniest periods I can remember in Washington, these are my hunches:

  • The Congress and Administration will reach the outlines of a final deal before closing time tonight and will pass a major bill before Monday morning. The President's short appearance on television this morning shows an acute understanding in the White House and Treasury that they cannot allow the markets to open Monday a.m. without a deal - too much danger of the markets tanking, as patience will have run out.
  • Now that John McCain has bowed to the inevitable and agreed to debate in Mississippi, his campaign aides and House Republicans will insist that he played a useful role as a mediator between the rebellious House GOP and everybody else. And perhaps he did. My bet is that a larger number of House conservatives will now hold their noses and vote for the compromised plan, but Democrats and most journalists won't buy this claim that McCain played a helpful role, and I'm not sure the public will either. 
  • The likelihood is that Barack Obama will gain from all of this mess during the week, as McCain has once again seemed impulsive and erratic while Obama has been steady as a rock. But McCain could possibly turn it around tonight if he delivers a compelling debate performance and Obama is as laid back and professorial as he was at Saddleback.

So, the drama continues. What all of us can hope is that the politicians in Washington pull together an agreement this weekend and keep us away from the brink. We have been skirting awfully close in recent weeks.

Filed under: David Gergen • Raw Politics
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. bala

    I was wondering, why the government has to bail out only the lost investments when we know that without the bailout even the blue chips will fall. Yes bail them out but also take over selected blue chips that would bring over quicker turnarounds for the taxpayers money.

    September 27, 2008 at 7:09 am |
  2. Jesse Goldade

    I'm kinda nervous that Sen. McCain didn't once look at Sen. Obama, or address his response to Sen. Obama. It really scares me that if he can't look Obama in the eye and tell him what he feels, what will happen when the time comes to meet across the table with a foreign dignitary and he can't look them in the eye? Was he just nervous, does he feel he is "above" his younger opponent, or is he uncomfortable with his views and doesn't have the confidence to stand behind what he says? After being asked several times by the moderator to address eachother, Sen. Obama was the only one to actually do it, although it did seem forced at first. Do these two really have that much animosity towards eachother?

    September 26, 2008 at 11:28 pm |
  3. brian

    I cant believe that John McCain wont even look at Barack Obama during this debate – showing no respect at all which pushes me away from the republicans. Obama won this hands down just on how he presented himself – looked/talked at McCain and didnt just stare into the audience and the moderator. I also think a President has to be willing to talk and let the enemy know what they will face.

    September 26, 2008 at 10:28 pm |
  4. Wanda Woodburn

    What happened to McCain's "patriotic" flag pin? For several weeks I have observed he never has it on his coat, but Obama always wears the flag. Why the change?

    September 26, 2008 at 10:20 pm |
  5. Annie Kate

    If we are going to do this bailout then God help us if it doesn't work.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 26, 2008 at 9:23 pm |
  6. Tony

    What are the possiblities of McCain siding with the house Republicans? This would distance himself from Bush as well as make him look like an economy guru and fit his profile of a maveric and shaking up Washington.

    Obama will come out of it being the one closer to Bush.

    September 26, 2008 at 8:20 pm |
  7. anthony williams

    About the 700 billion dollar plan. why don’t the government give every tax payer $500,000. but for the recipients, they would have to pay taxes on it first. 2nd, for any home owner who’s house went into foreclosure would have to pay the banks back half of the balance that was left on the mortgage. 3rd. All debt and accounts being delinquent would have to be paid off. 4th. ALL credit card debt would have to be paid off. 5th. for six months, everyone would have to put $90,000 in the bank of their choice, but the money WOULD HAVE TO SIT FOR 6 MONTHS. This way, the government would have helped the Americans people, the cc companies, the banks, and the mortgage industry. Then people would spend, shop, be able to buy gas, food and etc. The economy would boom for at least 4 yrs. plus for the responsible Americans who are not in those distress situations, they would have 500 k for being good Stuarts.

    September 26, 2008 at 7:52 pm |
  8. KIm

    Mr. Gergen ! We need to organize this financial over whelming complicated never ending pile of information evaluating this 700 billion dollar bail out no one on Main Street is excited about. Do you believe that a technical solution exists for every social and economic problem ? Volunteer efforts historically viewed and government action none of which produced economic recovery. What are the slices and percentage cuts in the 700 billion dollar Principles of Fairness Pie ?1,oversight ? 2.Tax Payer Risk/reward 3.Executive compensation 4.accountability 5.Foreclosures 6.Federal Insurance and yet another pie indicating visuals viewing % cuts with CFTC,SEC,who's regulating insurance companies and credit companies ? Where are we borrowing the money Mr. Gergen ? No wonder there is an untrusting feeling and questions have not been answered or explained. All of a sudden we bail out 700 billion dollars ? What's been going on with the regulatory efficiency for this to have happened to begin with ? Don't forget the FBI and CIA is investigating for fraud and telling us they suspect people will end up in jail and we're handing over 700 billion dollars anyway ? 10,000 foreclosures a day ? Explain it all to the American people and where was Paulson yesterday and he wasn't seated to answer questions for the senators at the meeting. Honestly feeling for Obama and McCain after the last few days ! Turn on the "orginal hamster dance !" God Bless America ! Thank-you CNN for your coverage and clarity or efforts there of viewing an insane few days to disect and absorb following election 08. Explain it !

    September 26, 2008 at 6:47 pm |
  9. Brian

    Yep, David, that's pretty much it, in a nutshell.

    The American people want somebody with "Beauty" AND "Brains" in the White House this November, and they've realized that experience alone just doesn't cut it to be President. Not only do you need leadership skills, but you have to have the knowledge and understanding of our nation's economy, as well as foreign policy.
    To me, it just seems that Senator Obama is a much more progressive thinker, while McCain still very much old school Washington and Pre-Cold War mentality...The U.S. cannot achieve it's foreign policy goals simply by invading oppressive dictatorial nations. The world just doesn't work that way......

    September 26, 2008 at 6:38 pm |
  10. JC-Los Angeles

    David, the only certainty coming from the $700 billion needed to bail out our failed leadership, is that no one knows anything about anything.

    Whether the Republicans want to give McCain credit or the Democrats Obama, what needs to be understood is that the general public has stopped listening to everyone.

    Throwing money at problems is never a solution; real leaders fix the inherent problems so they don't happen again.

    Unless our nation puts measures in place to eliminate fraud and a lack of oversight at all levels, we will need another $700 billion to address universal healthcare fraud.

    September 26, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  11. Jim

    David- I'm one of the poor- My Hunch, This November THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY & If Your an Incumbant in Washington- KISS YOUR CAREER GOODBYE!!!!!!!!! BOTH PARTIES THIS MEANS WAR & IT WILL BE FOUGHT AT THE POLLING BOOTH.

    September 26, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  12. Wendy G

    He calls himself a Maverick, what I see is an irresponsible and reckless threat to the future of America.

    McCain is clearly out of control and Maverick is not the word for it. First he puts us at risk by placing Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency, all to create headlines and now this ridiculous show about the debate.

    Politics aside, his temperament is not suitable for the presidency of the United States. Great soldier and hero, yes. President, NO!

    September 26, 2008 at 4:47 pm |
  13. Penny

    Mr. Gergen – your analysis is awesome as always – very wise, balanced, and insightful! I believe McCain recognizes that he is a senator with duties in addition to running a presidential campaign. He and Obama are still elected officials, after all, and this is a crisis situation. And I do believe he played an important role as mediator. Looking forward to a great debate!

    September 26, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  14. Johnny Utah

    We all now know there never was a deal yesterday, and when all was shifted towards the messiah for wisdom, he crumbled.
    The wagons circled Obama immediately and tried to blame McCain, as if he were to blame for this situation, for the disruption. If the democrats have the perfect plan, then tell the republicans we don't need you and pass whatever bill they would like. They have the majority, could proceed forward but won't. They could never go down and have no republican to blame when all backfires. Chris Dodd and Barney Frank are incompetent. It is ubelievable they say what they say now, knowing well well the comments they have made in the past and where they stood years ago. We americans can see through these lies and will not forget come time to vote. These men would be fired at any company given the results. I don't think Obama or McCain can get the U.S. out of this one. Smaller government is the answer.

    September 26, 2008 at 4:12 pm |
  15. Linda Jeter

    What is McCain to do? Damed if he does and Damed if he doesn't. If McCain puts the people of this country first, which he's always said he would do, then Obama will call him chicken if he doesn't show. But Michelle. aka Jackie O wanna be, can only be proud of being an american because her husband was nominated, can continue to spout anti-americanism one liners and get laughs. Whatever happened to respect? Obama only uses it to point uut what he calls personal attacks against him. He is the only one to point out the issue of race. He isn't quick to point out the only reason he's a senator is because "someone" broke a scandal against his opponent. Well I'm not looking forward to a one world regieme under a leader whose wife isn't proud of the country he wants to run. If John McCain were to announce on election day that he had a terminal illnes, I would still vote for him and Palin.

    September 26, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  16. Surafel Melaku

    Why the Bush administration wait all this time and now they want to rush and force congress to act now!? I think this administration plays a big political game to change the focus and block Obama's message getting across. The election is too close and intense, add this crisis the focus will be that not the candidate and if it keeps going McCain has a nice shoot getting on swing state voters and such.

    John McCain went to the white house meeting for photo and camera shots, nothing more. He hasn't say a word on the meeting according to Nancy, while Obama give an idea and participate on the meeting.

    Tonight, I hope Obama push McCain on how and what he plans to do to solve this economic crisis, his view of the world and energy policy. This is the time for Obama to show-off, his outstanding judgement, leadership, and experience.

    September 26, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  17. GPaul

    Wow, John McCain can't even keep promises to himself... how can he be entrusted with the American Dream?

    September 26, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  18. Joyce P

    Can the Vice Presidential candidate quit before the election? If so, who could replce Palin? What would happen to the Republican party potential winning of the election?
    She could bail out and make up a family excuse.
    I think she may end up losing the election-she just can't talk on subject. Even I can do better than that....isn't anyone running the questions by her and testing the answers? Can this be doomsday for what was a promising election for McCain?

    September 26, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  19. John Hartnett

    Help me to understand why our elected officials in Washington have not benchmarked the strategies and tactics other countries have employed to support financially distressed companies and generate a positive return on their investment when those organizations become profitable again? If the issues are analogous, why not implement those strategies as the foundation in which to build a bailout plan here that satisfies the short term needs of the foundering financial institutions while meeting long term financial gains - profits that should be distributed to the taxpayers who are compelled to make this bailout investment whether they want to or not.

    September 26, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  20. Liz Grigsby

    My husband and I are getting ready to retire. He was career Air Force. We worked hard with limited income to have a good life, a good future financially. I saw a panel a few days ago with people who were getting ready to lose their homes. I wanted to ask them – did you have to put a down pament on your house? We have always put money down on our house. Are there really people out there who are walking away from their down payments? Or did they not have any money equity in that mortgage agreement? If not, shame on those real estate brokers and mortgage brokers – that is almost a con job. I guess I'm very naive or very out of touch on the ins and outs of mortgage processing. I've been absolutely amazed by these stories – I guess common sense has just varporized.

    September 26, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  21. Shazia Arain

    Am a fan of your comments and your insight. I think you are right on.I hope the public sees this McCain stunt for what it is. And I sincerely hope that while Obama appears as solid as a rock, he is NOT laid back.I hope he has his groove tonight, and smacks McCain right and left... (with his words I mean).

    Love your comentary. keep it coming.

    September 26, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  22. Donna

    I am a 62 year old white, Catholic, Republican voter, lost my position as manager of a small real estate company in Ca after seventeen years and no one is bailing me out!!! Nonetheless, I concur something needs to be done to help our economy and hope for the best. I was undecided until McCain "suspended" his campaign, I will now vote Obama/Biden on November 4.

    September 26, 2008 at 2:22 pm |
  23. Barbara-Dalton

    I am sick of it all. Whoever the genius(s) were that got us in this mess
    should be hanged in the village square. Now thanks to all the miss
    mangement that has taken place our future generations will be paying
    for this bailout. I don't think any high-powered excutives should be
    allowed to earn any kind of bonus or pay out in benefits of any kind.
    If I had miss-managed my company funds this way and was caught
    where do you think I would be spending the next few years.

    September 26, 2008 at 2:19 pm |
  24. Lisa

    David Gergen has to be one of the most insightful and balanced reporters. I agree with his points.

    I think the erratic nature of McCain's campaign has been a problem. It really does frame McCain as a "jump the gun kind of guy". I think that this quality probably served him well when he was younger and sharper...probably where the description "Maverick " originated. He just isn't sharp or concise anymore. He does seem to be the candidate of change though...as in "I am changing my mind again." McCain is relying on quick quips and grandstanding to address real issues. He needs to settle down and quit trying to gauge his responses in relation to the political winds because he is flapping in those winds right now. It really makes him seem indecisive and out of control...just my opinion.

    September 26, 2008 at 2:11 pm |
  25. Dani

    David, you are a true rock star ;), love you. You always stay so cool and calm. I love hearing you on AC/CNN. I can't wait to hear what you say about tonights debate. I'll be watching with you. Thank you for always giving the American people straight and honest answers. I hope Obama puts you to work in January.

    September 26, 2008 at 1:57 pm |
  26. Eric Rhodes

    John McCain is like a big bully; until someone stands up to him he will push his “will” on all who let him. Obama needs to stand up to this bully and put the facts straight without holding any punches, I for one want a leader who will stand and fight even though he make get bloody nose in the process but at least you are not thought as a push over or weak.

    September 26, 2008 at 1:51 pm |
  27. William of Iowa

    I was taken aback when McCain announced his "suspension" of the campaign. It smacked of executive order, so to speak. I found it an affront to the Constitution. Our democracy owes it's very existense to our right to vote and make choices. Campaigning comes with the turf and McCain made a choice to run for the office. Country first or corporation first – answer me this John.

    September 26, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
  28. Mehul Shah

    Does anyone know where Dick Cheney is? Is he still our VP !!!???

    September 26, 2008 at 1:42 pm |
  29. earle, provincetown

    What's with the,"over-the-weekend" jargon bandied about so often today? You and i know there are seven days in a week, perhaps this congress doesn't know that, but the average laboror in this country does. What jobs will be lost,or layoffs? Every good manufacturing job has been already outsourced, and if you ask for a raise, your shown the door! Finally, sending your children to college? Student loans are big business, some garnering 23% interest, or more(loan sharks, have a bigger heart than these flesh-eaters on Wall Street). Oh,and by the way, Japan's twenty-year resession (give or take a few years) is a pretty good (envious) economy,and those people seem to enjoy living in their perrenial recession??? P.S. The average citizen in this country, is now invisable to Washington's decision, which rewards failure to it's "Comrad's"!

    September 26, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  30. David Burnham

    We all know now that Freddie and Fannie Mac are at the heart of this financial crisis that we are in now. I thought the job of our Government was to protect the American People from predators. If the Senate knew three years ago that Fannie and Freddie Mac were going to be a problem, then why didn't someone in the Government try and change the course so we wouldn't be in this situation now. I would like for you to ask John McCain, Why he didn't make sure changes were done to Freddie and Fannie Mac before when you knew and wrote on a piece of legislation that if they weren't changed then it would cost the American People hundreds of billions of dollars. He calls himself a Maverick but that can't be true if he didn't do what was necessary to fix this problem when he could. In my mind we should clean house of our congress. They aren't watching out for the Americans. I feel they should all go to jail for allowing this to transpire.

    Please email me back with a response
    Thanks David Burnham.

    September 26, 2008 at 1:26 pm |
  31. Michael Hollmen

    Senator McCain showed all of us where his heart is – rooting for a fight in the US Senate!

    Senator Obama demonstrated behaviors such that I hope for when representing all of us when in conflict or crisis – cool calm and collected, the complete package of Diplomatic Prowess.

    Kudos to Obama!!!

    September 26, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
  32. nate

    I agree with all of your points except on how you characterized Senator McCain. I believe McCain showed patience and good judgment to put his campaign on hold and participate in a discussion with the President as well as others on how to fix this financial mess. Up until yesterday, I do not believe that all was known about the circumstances and magnitude of this financial problem. In addition, I don't believe that there is good communications between the President and John McCain. He did the right thing by going to Washington to hear all of the issues and see first hand what everyone's position is on both the Republican and Democratic side.
    Remember the vast majority of Americans do not support a bail out so whatever the Federal government decides must be put in a way that agrees with the American people.

    September 26, 2008 at 1:22 pm |
  33. Michelle

    Mr. Gergen you are so right. Only question I have is :
    are there any grownups other than Paulson and Bernanke?

    September 26, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  34. Jennifer - Michigan

    Hi David, Your hunches are probably "right on" – sounds exactly right. Drama, drama, drama, very interesting politics during this historic time. Anything can happen, it's been a very "edge of your seat" political season. What a time. I'm looking forward to the debates tonight, just as you are I'm sure.

    September 26, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  35. Henry Swan


    A remarkable solution was offered up as a solution to economic woos. It came from 6th graders in a Junior Achievement class at Colin Powell Middle School in Matteson, Illinois.

    They said that if the government would give every tax paying citizen $1,000,000 on the condition that it had to be used to pay off their debts, the delinquent mortgages would be paid along with a lot of other debt. Money would be freed up for savings and investments. Everybody would benefit.

    September 26, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  36. al carapella

    What if we let free enterprise take its natural course? Let the troubled, big companies go bankrupt, putting management's actions under a microscope and possibly bringing money back to the bankruptcy estates for the benefit of their creditors. The $700 Billion that the government is willing to loan to these companies should be used to kick start the economy and make America independent through a slue of options such as partnering with oil companies to share revenues from drilling for oil and developing alternative energy sources and creating jobs in agriculture, desalinization plants and maintaining America's infrastructure. Give the American people a source to keep their homes while we reform the corrupt and disgusting habits of the CEO's that put America in its current despicable shape.
    Al Carapella
    Valrico, Florida

    September 26, 2008 at 1:14 pm |
  37. S. Herley-Afifi

    Sen. Obama laid back tonight? I'll bet my vote on him it won't happen.

    September 26, 2008 at 1:09 pm |
  38. Penny

    Mr. Gergen – my family and I find you most refreshing in your analysis always – and especially during this tumultuous election season. Your wisdom and fairness always shine through – no matter which side the viewer is on. CNN is very fortunate to have you.

    September 26, 2008 at 1:02 pm |
  39. Adria O

    Bush is scary! He want's 700 Billions dollars. We already owe 9 Trillion to other countries and have not paid them back! I don't trust the man. Iam 36 years old and my great ,great grand children will be paying for this! Bush has the country in the toilet and McCain will flush us (if he wins, I hope to God not).

    Adria O.

    September 26, 2008 at 1:02 pm |
  40. Cindy

    Well if you call sitting back, having no opinion what so ever being steady as a rock then OK! LOL That to me shows someone who has no clue at all and is afraid to step in when needed. That he'd rather let everyone else do the hard work and he step in at the last minute and ride their coat tails as if he did something to get the bill passed. Isn't that what he's always done anyway!? Why change now huh?


    September 26, 2008 at 12:53 pm |
  41. Ashwin dhir

    I think it is total nonsense that a debate cannot be postponed, not canceled by a few days. Is the debate as urgent as the present crisis. All one is going to see in the Debate, is just talk. I think when a crisis of this magnitude is upon us we need that resolved first and then we can have the debates. I think saying the debate is so important that the world will come to an end , if they are postponed, let me repeat , postponed not canceled by a few days is sheer nonsense .

    September 26, 2008 at 12:49 pm |
  42. Anna

    Want the country to have a boostin the econemy for cheaper then the baileout. there are 305.170,945 people in the usa instead of giving AIG all this money give 1 million to each person un the usa so they can payoff there homes and boost the economy and still leave the goverment with money to work with what is so hard about this .
    1. aig or other banks wont go because all morgage will be paid
    2. It will give a big boost to the econamy because people will have money to spend
    3. So on and so on
    This is just a thought can some please look into it.

    September 26, 2008 at 12:48 pm |
  43. Pat Canada

    Hi David,
    Thanks for the Hunches. I too sincerely hope that Obama comes out of this Debate with more than he goes in with. But, I can't see really how that won't hppen after reading Palin's Interview with Katie Couric. She actually stated that Russia and Canada had narrow borders (maritime)? and thus were under her Executive Jurisdiction in Alaska! I mean, as a Canadian, I couldn't think of a larger insult from an American VP! She not only needs preping, she needs an International Geography Course 101 Stat! So Sad but True! I hope she's not giving McCain directions to the debate tonight! 🙂 (Then again, if she does, it may prove to be a great service to Americans and the World!)

    September 26, 2008 at 12:43 pm |
  44. Patrick Henry, Fort Myers

    David, I hope you are wrong on the financial rescue bill. Heres why:
    The phone lines, faxes, emails to congress/senate are jammed w/ angry voters who: "JUST SAY NO" to this enormous waste of taxpayer dollars based on hypothetical outcomes by 3 of the people in this country we should trust least!

    Thank God–at least some of our elected representatives are attempting to do the will of the people.

    Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Barrack Obama–are perfectly content ignoring their constitiuents demands that NO $700 billion bail out of Wall Street be allowed. That's exactly how the Democrats work in our democracy. They decide "for us" what is good for us.

    Thank God...the GOP is at least attempting to take their constituents valid concerns to heart before rubber stamping a trillion dollar pig w/ lipstick.

    September 26, 2008 at 12:40 pm |