Re: Debate Scenarios

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Sep 25, 2008 3:49 PM
It strikes me that, at this point, there isn't much reason for McCain not to go ahead with the debate -- and there's not much political downside to his doing so.  The main point has been made: John McCain is willing to put the people's business before his campaign; Barack Obama, in contrast, seems to consider the work of negotiating legislation to address what his own supporter, Warren Buffett, has called an "economic Pearl Harbor" to be somehow "above [his] pay grade."

McCain surrogates, of course, should be pointing out that it's understandable Barack would want to go ahead: He's been "cramming" for the debate for three days in Clearwater, Florida, after all . . . and having to postpone might, for him, be a little like a high schooler not getting to take the SAT on the pre-assigned day.

Surrogates likewise can note that, having insisted that the foreign policy debate be scheduled for 9 pm on a Friday evening, Barack probably doesn't want to risk it being rescheduled for a "school night" when more Americans are likely to watch.

And Senator McCain himself can commend Barack for taking debates so seriously, especially after having refused the McCain's offer to conduct a weekly series of townhall meetings.  McCain can also ask, if it's so important that "people hear from us right now" (as Barack put it), that Barack agree to a couple of townhalls of the kind he's heretofore rejected.

The whole business about "presidents have to do more than one thing at one time" strikes me as silly.  That goes without saying.  What's actually important is to have a president who can set priorities.  And one for whom the #1 priority isn't always his own political advancement.

There are some leaders who see the economic equivalent of a burning building and run toward it to try to help.  There are others who see it and run away so that they can avoid danger to themselves.  We just saw once again  which is which in this race.