I keep thinking about that heart-stopping week when the economic crisis broke, a week when Americans were scared, fretful and angry: like a Civil War general itching to lead one last glorious charge, the 72-year-old John McCain broke off his campaign, rushed to Washington, cradled a cell phone to his ear and sought to help pass the financial rescue bill. Meanwhile, there was an unruffled Obama, looking composed and elegant and steady might one say presidential? reassuringly convening his economic advisers, many of whom comprise the modern-day Wise Men of the financial establishment. Here, at this Rubicon for the nation, was a profound study in contrasts for the voters to consider, a moment when two images transcended all the talking points and canned speeches. Here, too, in this one moment, was when Americans would decide who their next President would be.
Winik is the author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval