Beckel has a suggestion he thinks might yet redeem the time. He thinks that 10 days to two weeks before the campaign ends, one of the candidates should announce he is tired of the negativity and until Election Day will refuse to utter a negative word about his opponent, focusing instead on the positive aspects of his own campaign. Beckel thinks this would sway the large independent vote in the direction of whichever candidate does it and means it, thereby handing him the election.
It worked for Jim Webb. In 2006, Webb was running against incumbent Senator George Allen, and the race was close. In the closing weeks of the campaign, Webb emphasized positive themes while Allen attacked Webb for racy passages in the novels he had written. Webb narrowly won. Beckel thinks the positive commercials sealed the deal, especially with independent voters.
Beckel also believes - and I agree - that Obama and McCain should tell the Commission on Presidential Debates that they are rejecting the tired format of journalists questioning them and they should come up with their own format, modeled after Lincoln-Douglas. The interest level would be sky-high and be reflected in the TV ratings.
Obama and McCain could change politics for a generation if they did this, but if they continue along their current path of mutual destruction, there will be no common ground, only scorched earth that will enhance the bitterness and cynicism most people already have toward politics and politicians.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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