McCain must not be much of a chess man. Somehow he didn't see very few moves ahead. I guess he hoped Obama would suspend his own campaign and agree to skip the debate. But failing that, McCain's plan was ... ?
He now finds himself in an extremely awkward position. It looks like the bailout, for good or ill (ill, if you want my opinion) is going forward. It looks like there's very little chance the current agreement will pass by the time the debate is due to start tomorrow. This leaves McCain few choices. The best (read: least catastrophic) is to declare that the crisis has ended and go to the debate. This is still bad, because it makes his "suspending my campaign" gesture look rash and unbalanced, further evidence that he doesn't have a good sense of magnitude.
But consider the other choices. If he doesn't declare victory on the bailout and yet still shows up at the debate, it will raise far more serious questions about his gesture--effectively making the "country first" theme a self-parody. If he just blows it off, that's nearly as bad, because it now appears Obama will have an hour of face time with 40 million Americans. Word on the street is that Obama may even do a town hall, further salting McCain's self-inflicted wounds.
It's hard to see any way in which this doesn't almost certainly destroy McCain's already vanishing chances of winning the election.
On the Veep debate, I am now about to make a very bold prediction: it won't happen. Seeing Palin self destruct with Katie Couric, it's evident that she can't be trusted to spend an hour blathering ignorance in front of half the country. She is seriously, dangerously ignorant about national domestic policy as well as foreign policy. In the contest between two very bad choices--letting her debate or suffering the blowback from canceling--the safer bet is canceling. That's how bad she is.