‘Dog ate my homework’

In my ultimate fantasy, Josh Marshall is the guy I would like to be. Way back when, he was writing and accomplishing things I only dreamed about. His site, TalkingPointsMemo, is a first stop for political junkies like me. Here he is on John McCain’s declaration that he’s taking a timeout on the presidential campaign:

Would You Believe …?

Perhaps this will shine an unflattering light on my psyche. But, like many of you, I have a busy schedule, with lots of work obligations and meetings. I also end up doing a decent number of panel discussions and speeches, though I try hard to keep those to a minimum. And like everyone, sometimes I get tired or overwhelmed and I wish I could get out of this or that responsibility.

Occasionally in these moments, in a perverse kind of private entertainment, I’ve found myself imagining what would happen if I pawned off on someone just the ballsiest, most inane excuse for flaking on some commitment. And not something that people might buy — nothing entertaining about that — but just something completely off the wall and nonsensical. What would people’s reaction be? Speechless, laughter, tearing me limb from limb? Would they ever speak to me again?

So, let’s see, I can’t moderate the panel because I’ve been called to Washington to give a special briefing on guerilla tactics to be used against the Taliban?

Or maybe, I want to be at the meeting, but as weird as this sounds, all the bridges and tunnels out of Manhattan have been shut for the day. Some counter-terrorism thing probably. I tried renting a helicopter but they’re all booked by people at the UN.

Isn’t this pretty much what John McCain tried to pull today? But actually really did it? And on a national stage? He wants to cancel the debate? And maybe also Palin’s debate. Are you kidding? Why not cancel the election too? And because he has to go back to DC to solve the financial crisis? Really? The topic he knows nothing about and after he’s shown up less in the senate in the last two years than anyone but Tim Johnson, the guy who had the stroke? Which of my employees is going to call from home tomorrow and say they can’t come to work because of the financial crisis?

One of the advantages of running a presidential campaign is that roughly half the country is deeply committed to believing or at least saying that virtually anything you do or say makes sense. And so it is here. But, look, if you were living in the real world, if you were some hotshot young executive at a Fortune 500 company trying to rise in the ranks, and you pulled some whacked crap like this, it would probably get you blackballed permanently. People would think you were either deeply unreliable or maybe just had a screw loose. And yet here he is — is he kidding? He can’t debate Barack Obama because he’s got to go to Washington and save the economy? It’s like the biggest ‘dog at my homework’ in history.

–Josh Marshall