John McCain made a splash with his dramatic entry into the bailout talks, but he now seems to be floundering, the New York Times writes. The candidate was largely silent during the summit meeting with the president in which the deal was scuttled by Republicans—"more observer than leader," according to observers—while Barack Obama stepped into the role of consensus-builder.
McCain didn't indicate whether he supported the negotiated deal, or the alternate put forward by GOP dissenters. The situation is changing fast and McCain could yet emerge as the hero, but he faces a difficult balancing act, the Times observes. Any bailout package is likely to rile the conservatives who only recently fully supported McCain with his pick of Sarah Palin as a running mate. If the deal falls through, McCain will be among those blamed for its failure.