This New York Times analysis lead perhaps sums up best McCain's gambit. "McCain had intended to ride back into Washington on Thursday as a leader who had put aside presidential politics to help broker a solution to the financial crisis. Instead he found himself in the midst of a remarkable partisan showdown, lacking a clear public message for how to bring it to an end. At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting."
More: "At the very least, Mr. McCain's actions have shaken up the campaign and the negotiations over the bailout package. It has put him at center stage, permitted him to present himself as putting his country ahead of his campaign — a recurring theme of his candidacy — and put him on deck to, if not help orchestrate a deal, at least be associated with one. But Mr. McCain is certainly seeing the risks of making such a direct intervention. He now finds himself in the middle of an ideological war that pits conservative Republicans, loath to spending so much taxpayer money on Wall Street, against the Bush White House, which, with the support of Democrats and a sizable number of Republicans, sees a bailout package as essential to averting a potential economic disaster."
While there is no doubt a middle ground, at the moment Mr. McCain finds himself between conservatives that he needs to keep on his side for the election … or being identified with the failure to complete a plan."
The AP has a similar story, which quotes many more folks criticizing McCain's role – and Republicans aren't over the top in their praise. "Even the House's Republican leader, John Boehner of Ohio, passed up a chance to praise McCain's leadership powers shortly before the two met in the Capitol at midday Thursday. Asked by reporters if McCain could help win House Republican votes for the proposed package, Boehner shrugged and said, 'Who knows?'"
"Boehner later said in a statement that McCain 'has a vital role to play in this process, and he has a history of working together with both parties to make things happen.' Other Republicans gave McCain more credit. 'They got something done this morning only because McCain came back,' said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. DeMint later called the administration's proposal 'a trillion-dollar Band-Aid that does not contain a single item that will stimulate our economy.'"
The Los Angeles Times reports, "In a roller-coaster day of hopes raised and hopes dashed, efforts to negotiate a compromise on the $700-billion plan for rescuing the nation's financial system bogged down Thursday, with conservative Republicans denouncing the strategy as ill-conceived and Democrats accusing GOP presidential candidate John McCain of encouraging the revolt. What remained unclear was whether Thursday's breakdown marked the beginning of the end for the rescue effort, or merely a tumultuous interlude on the way to approving a federal bailout that many in Congress consider unpalatable but unavoidable."
The New York Times: "The day began with an agreement that Washington hoped would end the financial crisis that has gripped the nation. It dissolved into a verbal brawl in the Cabinet Room of the White House, urgent warnings from the president and pleas from a Treasury secretary who knelt before the House speaker and appealed for her support."
"'I didn't know you were Catholic," Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson's kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: 'It's not me blowing this up, it's the Republicans.'"
"Mr. Paulson sighed. 'I know. I know.'"
The New York Daily News: "John McCain rides in to save day -- and makes a mess."