This has been implicit in what a lot of folks have said, but it’s worth observing that the congressional conservatives who spiked the bailout deal yesterday have, among other things, dealt a devastating blow to their own party’s electoral prospects. Not only does John McCain look foolish in a news cycle sense, but economic dislocation plays strongly in the Democrats’ favor at both the presidential and the congressional levels. They would never say so in public, of course, but serious economic problems are the best shot folks like Jeff Merkley, Kay Hagin, Al Franken, and Ronnie Musgrove have. Over the summer, the prospects for a huge Democratic Senate sweep started looking bad, but if things get worse the better those odds look. I’m less familiar with the House situation, but this is like shooting Chris Shays in the back of the head.
Meanwhile, the GOP’s decision to spend the past 24 hours fighting a spin war against the Democrats on cable is bizarre. It’s an extension of John McCain’s preference for winning the news cycle over winning the election. But good though the right-wing spinmeisters may be, you can’t un-spin the vote count — it was a Republican administration that mislaunched the rescue package and it was congressional Republicans that killed the modified package. What the GOP leaders need to do is convince enough of their members to change positions, as quickly as possible, so as to minimize the amount of time this story dominates the news and to minimize the economic fallout. That’s not just the right thing to do it’s in their self-interest.