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'Unsettling': WaPo Editorial Torches Fetterman's Debate-Dodging Antics

AP Photo/Rebecca Droke

The Washington Post's editorial board this week joined a growing chorus criticizing Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman over his repeated refusal to debate GOP nominee Mehmet Oz that finally saw the Democrat agree, under immense pressure, to just one debate to take place after early voting in the Keystone State has begun. 

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As The Post's editorial board notes, the Fetterman vs. Oz showdown "might well determine which party controls the Senate, and voters would benefit from seeing the two candidates exchange ideas and test each other." No kidding. "Mr. Fetterman has seemingly been reluctant to commit to firm debate dates, and that troubling stance has raised questions about whether he, still recovering from a serious stroke, is fit to serve in the Senate," WaPo adds of the obvious questions swirling around Fetterman's fitness — if his ability to debate in an election cycle is in doubt, how will he manage debating policies in the well of Senate?

The Post's editorial board doesn't pull punches in its evaluation of Fetterman's "unsettling" health, either:

Since returning to the campaign trail, Mr. Fetterman has been halting in his performances. He stammers, appears confused and keeps his remarks short. He has held no news conferences. Mr. Fetterman acknowledges his difficulties with auditory processing, which make it hard for him to respond quickly to what he’s hearing. He receives speech therapy — and we wish him a speedy, full recovery — but the lingering, unanswered questions about his health, underscored by his hesitation to debate, are unsettling.

WaPo continues its merciless indictment of Fetterman and his campaign, calling them out for the way they "squandered credibility by concealing from the public for two days after his stroke that he had been hospitalized," then "waited weeks longer to reveal a more complete picture of his medical history, including that he had been diagnosed in 2017 with cardiomyopathy" and, its only response to questions about Fetterman's fitness, "is to point to a doctor’s note, released more than 14 weeks ago, which said 'he should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate without a problem' if he takes his medications and exercises."

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Big yikes.

The editorial notes that Oz agreed to and wanted to participate in five debates while "Fetterman dodged and ducked before tentatively agreeing last week to one but not until 'sometime in the middle to end of October.'"

The timing is convenient for Fetterman and his campaign that seems to prefer keeping their candidate away from public scrutiny because the tentative debate agreed to is "well after Sept. 19, when voters can start casting mail-in ballots." If Fetterman's ideas are so great and his abilities so convincing, why would his people want to keep him from comparing them to Oz's until after early ballots have already been cast? What are they so worried about?

The Post also notes that Fetterman's alleged participation in the one debate is still "short of the two debates that had been the standard during recent competitive Senate contests in Pennsylvania."

WaPo's conclusion about Fetterman's decisions and his campaign's rationale for why the Lt. Governor is fit to serve in the U.S. Senate? It's "not good enough" and voters aren't being given enough information to decide whether or not Fetterman is fit to serve:

Mr. Fetterman is asking voters for a six-year contract without giving them enough information to make sound judgments about whether he’s up for such a demanding job. We have called for full disclosure of health records from candidates for federal office in both parties, including Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and we believe Mr. Fetterman should release his medical records for independent review.

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WaPo's editorial follows one in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and criticism from an ever-growing body of pundits and news outlets who find Fetterman's diminished capacities following a serious stroke and pacemaker surgery concerning for a man who wants to spend at least six years in the world's greatest deliberative body. 

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