The Note: You Break It . . .

"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," write Richard Simon, Maura Reynolds and Nicole Gaouette of the Los Angeles Times. "There were signs that, behind the scenes, skeptical Democrats and Republicans were beginning to move toward a compromise version of Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson's original plan, but it remained to be seen whether there would be enough votes to pass legislation."

What's really behind the revolt? "Challengers are beginning to hammer congressional incumbents for backing Wall Street moguls over Main Street taxpayers in the evolving investment-industry bailout effort, further complicating Capitol Hill efforts to rescue the economy," Ralph Z. Hallow writes for the Washington Times.

McCain's task (since he chose to accept it): "Boehner and the White House -- and McCain -- if they want to get something passed -- do have the responsibility to persuade these Republicans to support the bailout," The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder blogs. "After all, if not to get these recalcitrant Republicans on board, why did McCain go to Washington in the first place?"

Would this even work? "Democrats think that Republicans were backing away from a compromise many of them agreed to earlier Thursday -- without McCain's involvement -- in order to give McCain time to play a role and perhaps appear as a rescuer," McClatchy's David Lightman and Margaret Talev write.

Perceptions matter: "It is probably unfair to say that John McCain's decision to steer the presidential race off the campaign trail and into the White House jinxed the deal to bail out the nation's troubled economy," The Nation's John Nichols writes. "Then again . . . "

Another skeptic (in case there's still room): "Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said today that our nation's leaders -- especially President Bush -- are 'in a panic' and haven't thought through the $700 billion bailout plan in a rush to pass it by the end of the week," per ABC's Scott Mayerowitz. Said O'Neill: "I don't think he understands or knows much about any of this and it shows."

McCain learns that even the high road is bumpy: "The campaigns also sparred over whether McCain had really suspended politicking while talks are underway on the bailout deal," Kathy Kiely and David Jackson write in USA Today. "McCain campaign aides such as Nancy Pfotenhauer and Tucker Bounds did cable television interviews, while vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin toured Ground Zero in New York City."

Bad optics: "Just hours after Sen. John McCain made a surprise announcement Wednesday that he was temporarily suspending his presidential campaign to help work out a bipartisan deal in Congress on the financial crisis, his campaign manager Rick Davis dined with about a dozen top New York-based fundraisers at the chic 21 Club in Manhattan," National Journal's Peter Stone reports.

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