Today, the Washington Post reveals more details about what happened during the White House meeting on Thursday between President Bush and top lawmakers. Despite indicating that his presence was pivotal in Washington for these bailout negotiations, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said almost nothing during the meeting with Bush:
Bush turned to McCain, who joked, “The longer I am around here, the more I respect seniority.” McCain then turned to Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to speak first.
Boehner was blunt. The plan Paulson laid out would not win the support of the vast majority of House Republicans. It had been improved on the edges, with an oversight board and caps on the compensation of participating executives. But it had to be changed at the core. He did not mention the insurance alternative, but Democrats did. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, pressed Boehner hard, asking him if he really intended to scrap the deal and start again.
No, Boehner replied, he just wanted his members to have a voice. Obama then jumped in to turn the question on his rival: “What do you think of the [insurance] plan, John?” he asked repeatedly. McCain did not answer.
McCain reportedly told his Senate colleages: “Just like Iraq, I’m not afraid to go it alone if I need to.”
When asked by the Washington Post whether McCain “will be able to spin the idea that he swooped in and saved the bailout bill,” House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) replied:
It depends on whether you guys get fooled or not and write that [bleep]. … Before McCain came in, we thought we were working. McCain comes in, it gets screwed up, now McCain leaves — I dunno, it’s like Jimmy Piersall.