I doubt this is a blink. Had McCain stayed in Washington DC and cancelled the debate he would have milked the situation for far much more that he could. Like a comedian wearing a joke. Of course, it would have looked better if he had struck a deal last night. But, the role McCain played will sort itself out over the weekend. Long after the partisan cheap shots have been forgotten, what will be remembered is that he took on the problem; front and center.
He made his point, rallied the conservative Republicans in the House and made Obama look like a fool.
And, he messed with Obama’s mind. Obama was down in Florida prepping for the debate and had his game plan upset by his having to show up in Washington DC. Moreover, by Bush’s request for a summit as well as having to match McCain’s ante, he had to actually show some actual leadership with the limelight thrust directly upon him.
All the while, he wasn’t sure whether he was going to debate as scheduled. An appearance in Oxford was left up in the air until mid-morning. He got played like a drum.
And, since McCain was calling the shots, he was most likely prepping for the debate he knew he was going to do anyway. More important than prepping, McCain was mentally prepared since he knew he was going to debate anyway. Getting inside your opponents OODA loop, it’s what the old fighter jock does for a living.