The failed vote was a failure of leadership, a historic misreading of the country's mood -- and it came after a clanker of a move by a presidential candidate who is still looking for a way to make economic issues his own.
A bad bet: "McCain invested more political capital than anyone else in a deal that went bad," CQ's Jonathan Allen writes. "After the bailout bill fell apart, McCain was left with little room to argue he had helped the process. So, he fired a few partisan shots."
Team McCain, in the aftermath: "This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country," said McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin, per ABC's John Berman and Ron Claiborne.
But didn't the bill also fail because Republicans voted by a 2-1 margin against their president, their presidential candidate, and their leadership? And here's just guessing that a Nancy Pelosi speech had slightly less to do with the vote's outcome than the fact that 435 House members are on the ballot five weeks from today.
(How many years does McCain need to be in Congress before he learns how the place works -- and that you better accomplish your mission before declaring that you did so?)
"Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his top aides took credit for building a winning bailout coalition -- hours before the vote failed and stocks tanked," Politico's Mike Allen writes. "The rush to claim he had engineered a victory now looks like a strategic blunder that will prolong the McCain's campaign's difficulty in finding a winning message on the economy."
"About an hour before the Wall Street bailout package collapsed yesterday in the U.S. House, Sen. John McCain trumpeted his role in building a coalition to fight for the economic rescue plan," Joe Hallett writes for the Columbus Dispatch.
"So if McCain wanted credit for passage, should he share some of the blame for its defeat?" Marc Ambinder blogs for The Atlantic. "Two thirds of half Republicans voted for its defeat . . . after a weekend of telephone call diplomacy from McCain."
"The house always wins, gamblers are warned," per the AP's Chuck Babington. "By his own actions last week, McCain tied himself far more tightly to the failed bill than did his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama."
"The vote is a blow to John McCain, who had so dramatically 'suspended' his campaign to return to DC and broker a deal," National Review's Rich Lowry writes. "His campaign had explained his role as bringing to the table and coaxing along House Republicans, whose revolt now makes him look ineffectual."
From here, per ABC's George Stephanopoulos, congressional leaders are considering four options for when Congress reconvenes after Rosh Hashanah: Hope the markets change minds and try again in the House; let the Senate vote first to build momentum for the package; make some changes that are popular on the right, like extending FDIC insurance and suspending the mark-to-market rule; or tacking left with the bill to add Democratic votes.
Said Stephanopoulos: "Neither presidential candidate has given any indication that they are going to suspend their campaign and run back to Washington, DC to deal with this. However it's likely well see both Obama and McCain in Washington in person when that vote finally comes."