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Should the Presidential Debates Go Forward As Scheduled On 26 September?

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The present Congress is not exemplary. Neither is the present executive branch. However, they are the only ones we have, and they are the ones which can deal now with the current economic difficulties; they are the only bodies with the legal ability to do so.

The Presidential debate scheduled for 26 September is important. Should Senators McCain and Obama agree to delay it briefly so they can go do their jobs as U.S. Senators? Senator McCain has proposed a delay, Senator Obama has rejected it. Senator McCain has called for an hiatus on political ads, Senator Obama has rejected that. Senator Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, has suggested that Senator McCain "not come back" for the Senate deliberations.

I am convinced that Senators McCain and Obama should return to Washington for the Senate deliberations. True, the TV networks and various cable channels would be inconvenienced. They would have to change their schedules. Too damn bad. Perhaps they could present re-runs of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. More likely, they would, each with its own biases and each in its own way, comment on what the various factions and the administration are proposing to do about the economy, where the disagreements lie, along with their own op-ed analyses of what they (experts that they are) think should be done. That might be an entertaining distraction. Perhaps that's what we need, but I don't think so.

The appropriate time for recriminations about whose fault the mess may be is later. Little good would come from debating whether it is the fault of Senator Obama or Senator McCain or their respective parties. Later, perhaps in a week, but not now; not until after a real attempt to assuage the crisis has been made.

The debate scheduled for Friday would take only an hour or so. However, preparation would take much longer, as anyone who has ever taken a high school or college examination and hoped to do well should know. That time could be far better spent on (hopefully) bipartisan efforts to deal with the financial mess in which the country finds itself.

Why did Senator McCain suggest postponement of the debate and Senator Obama insist that it go forward as scheduled? I am no mind reader, and don't know. Perhaps Senator McCain wants, for purely political advantage, to appear (only facially) as a statesman-like national leader. Perhaps Senator Obama doesn't want to show up and vote "present" and decline responsibility for a "yea" or "nea" vote. It is just possible that were they both to do the jobs as senators to which they were elected, rather than pursue as their sole focus the securing of new and more powerful jobs, the country might profit. Since both claim to want to be bipartisan, a few day's postponement of the debate might give us a glimpse as to whether either actually wants to be bipartisan and actually to participate in such a process, or merely appear to be and do so while castigating others. It is far easier to do the latter. Castigation is easy and comes in sound bites; active participating in producing acceptable results is harder and more useful. It does not come in sound bites. It requires time, thought and consultation.

One thing the country can't afford is to have a Congressional stalemate with nothing to follow except a recess. Either Senator Obama or Senator McCain will be the next President. For either to decline to participate, fully, in the very important decision making process, with a mantle of leadership, would be very unfortunate.

The recriminations are coming and will continue to come. They can wait. They will not be a decent substitute for participation, now, in what we like to call the democratic process.

I hope that Senators Obama and McCain will come to an agreement about postponing the debate.  Should they fail to do so, perhaps Senator Obama will appear and point to Senator McCain's empty chair, for all the good it will do. It will do him very little. I think that would probably be the very worst mistake of his campaign. Perhaps he could use his solo appearance on television, as FDR is said to have done during the market collapse (in 1929), to calm the masses. That might be Senator Biden's advice. I rather hope that Senator Obama rejects it.

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About Dan Miller

  • Jesse

    The debate is at 9PM and runs for 90 minutes. How difficult would it be to participate in Congressional activities during the day and fly into Oxford, MS for the debate, then back to DC? Is McCain too old and feeble to handle that? Shouldn’t the President be capable of something so simple?

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    I agree. Postponing the debate is ridiculous. Political posturing pure and simple.
    McCain can do whatever WORK he deems necessary and still debate. Meet with the prez and planned, with Obama, as planned, and debate as planned, and then the guys, all of them can work on this thing as long as it takes…..

    What IS important is for the country to see what the next PRESIDENT will do for the country on ALL issues…… because this is not the only thing going on right now.

    This bailout, whether it happens or not, and how it happens, does not have to be resolved by this weekend, should NOT be resolved by this weekend.

    McCain is a panderer and an politician, pure and simple and this is a ploy, pure and simple, toward what end, I don’t even want to think about.

    But it is nuts. And meaningless.

  • dee

    The McCain campaign is fastly becoming a joke… why are he and crazy Palin scared to debate? The only thing that makes sense as to why he doesn’t want to debate is that he is scared…. most likely because he is going to get grilled on the economy and how the republican party is on the wrong side of everything economic… and probably because McCain self described himself as knowing nothing on the economy and he will have to answer questions that he has no clue about… his age is showing with this weird ploy to delay the debate… if he can’t show up for two hours and debate than he shouldn’t be running… the American people need to see the differences between the candidates on the issues and this is only accomplished between these debates… there are clear differences that the people have to see… and he has missed more votes in the senate (since he started his campaign) than anyone else except the guy who had the brain aneurysm… and what the hell is he going to do in Washington? he is ONE vote… is he going to get back there and everyone is going to say, well McCain is back now we have to get shit done… give me a freaking break… most republicans in the senate don’t even like the guy… also if I remember correctly, at the beginning of the week McCain said the economy is fundamently strong… now he’s acting as if the end is near… HAHAHA… he is acting CRAZY… Bob Barr has said he will debate Obama if the old man can’t make it on Friday, I hope that happens… I am thoroughly enjoying watching McCain implode… this is great news for Obama… thank god because this country cannot afford to elect mccain

  • Clavos

    Dan,

    Given the insignificance of what transpires at the debates (canned “questions,” canned “answers”), I agree; postponing the debate and observing the two of them participating in the process of resolving the crisis is a far better test of both.

    Obama should have been smart enough to see that from the start, when McCain first proposed it.

    Of course, he could just phone in his “present” vote.

  • troll

    27th – ?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Daniel Miller

    It is early yet on this thread, but I would be interested to learn why it is so critically important that the debate go forward on Friday, 25 September. What’s wrong with, say, early next week?

    Like it or not, the Congress and the administration are now working on the matter, and apparently are making real efforts to “do something” promptly. Should the Congress and the Administration defer further action until after the scheduled Friday debate, so that the debate can go forward as scheduled and so that Senators Obama and McCain can show up in Washington to participate at a more convenient time? I don’t think that would work; the pressure is on, whether we think that is a good thing or a bad thing.

    Why is it of lesser importance that Senators McCain and Obama devote their full energies and attentions now (a) as Senators and (b) as leaders of their respective parties to what many view as an economic crisis than having the debate on Friday?

    I am unaware of any proposal to cancel the debate, and think that participation in what, I hope, will be a bipartisan effort to resolve the current economic “crisis” trumps holding the debate tomorrow.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Daniel Miller

    Sorry, I goofed. The debate is scheduled for 26, not 27 September. Sorry about that. Probably a “senior moment.”

    Dan(Miller)

  • troll

    …I think that this crisis is too important – let’s cancel the election for a few years until it is clear that we are beyond it

    in any case we’re going to need war mongers in power as world war is the only viable solution to our economic woes and the Bushes is tried and true

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Daniel Miller

    Whoops, another senior moment. In Comment #6, I referred to Friday, September 25th. Damn.

    Dan(Miller)

  • troll

    ‘are’

  • troll

    (Dan – I figured that it was a right wing conspiracy to get people to miss the debate)

  • Joanne Huspek

    Maybe they (Congress) could cut the crap and get this done by dinnertime tonight? Without attaching a bunch of pork to the bill?

    Yeah… right… Only if their own heads weren’t on the line, maybe…

    I think the debates should go on as scheduled, but I would also have no problem in seeing it delayed a few days.

  • bliffle

    Nobody has proven that we need to do anything, let alone in a panic.

    Paulson and Bernanke have poor credentials as seers, because they’ve been so wrong before.

    The only reason that I can think of for authorizing this money is to pay above-market prices for securities. Why is that a good thing? Won’t the market itself buy them at market prices?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Daniel Miller

    Joanne,

    Maybe they (Congress) could cut the crap and get this done by dinnertime tonight? Without attaching a bunch of pork to the bill? Right. The Congress is capable of doing some truly difficult and amazing things; it has even managed to earn a lower confidence rating than any President has ever accomplished.

    Speaking of pork, I am reliably informed that there is a pig in a nearby town who can dance the polka while simultaneously chewing gum and whistling the national anthem. Not only that, but he does all three very well. Less Pork and More Porkers are needed in the Congress, I say.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    and
    this woman should be our next VP?

  • Pablo

    Lisa re post 15

    After seeing the above video its not wonder that the republican machine is doing everything it can do prevent Palin from being interviewed, she is obviously uninformed on the issues of the day, and nothing more than an apologist for the gangsters that have robbed us blind.

    On another note, I do find it interesting that NO one mentions the 2.3 trillion dollars that vanished from the Pentagon, and was announced by Rumsfeldt on 9/10/01, and not another peep since! We sure could use that dough now.

  • jamminsue

    There is no reason to delay the debate except if one sees a potential disadvantage.
    McCain and Obama are not on the Banking Committees doing the work, and are excluded from attending the meetings so have no excuse or reason to show up EXCEPT to provide additional polarization.

    Stopping in DC to make a vote today or tomorrow should not interfere with practice time or ability to attend to debate scheduled tomorrow.

    Further, McCain cancelled last minute his appearance on the Dave Letterman show last night – what was that all about?

    These kinds of action are what creates conspiracy theories.

    “Something is rotten in Denmark”…

  • dee

    Now that an agreement has been reached… without old man McCain’s help because it wasn’t needed as he was only ONE vote on this legislation… what is his excuse for not debating now? he is refusing to commit even though an agreement has supposedly been reached… he looks really really old and relly really stupid with this latest move to delay the debate… he is by far running the worst campaign I have ever seen in my lifetime (i’m 30)… he’s all over the place on issue after issue and the stuff he is doing is just making no sense… HAHAHAHAHAHA

    PS – Palin – worst VP pick ever… she is clueless on almost everything that is vital

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Have the debate go on by proxy through Paul Begala and Bill Kristol.

  • Lee Richards

    When any member of congress puts his “responsibilities” above his own self-interest, something is rotten. They just ain’t made that way.

    McCain, never a strong speaker, tried to one-up Obama to buy time and paint himself as a great statesman and it didn’t work. Debates have been important in campaigns before:Kennedy-Nixon, Carter-Ford, etc. McCain’s campaign fears this one, because it can’t be scripted and rigidly controlled.

    It should go on as scheduled. What better time to see how each man reacts to the pressure of a national emergency in real time?

    RE #15: A small mind in control of great power is a truly scary thing.

  • Baronius

    On another thread, Cannonshop presented the scenario of Palin sitting in for McCain in the debate. Considering that the VP should be able to fill in for the President at a moment’s notice, I think the debate should go on as scheduled, with Obama and Palin.

    As for McCain’s decision, I’m sure that it’s genuine. McCain loves working on big, sweeping bipartisan moves that maybe aren’t as thought out as they should be. That’s his element.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The GOP-leaners on this site will follow McCain anywhere, apparently. They just hate/fear Obama so much that they can’t bring themselves to admit that John McCain has turned desperate/weird/ridiculous. This debate-delaying stunt is despicable and disgusting. McCain’s and Obama’s presence on Capitol Hill and at the White House did exactly nothing to help pass a bill. The ‘meeting’ provided a photo-op and a delaying tactic for a losing campaign. Very sad.

  • Zedd

    Friday is the 26th. I thought the debate was tomorrow.

    Obama is ahead and this crisis doesn’t look good for Republicans. If they wait for some sort of a solution to be hashed out then Mc Cain wont look so ridiculous. Why would Obama agree to wait for things to get better?

    How does their waiting affect the outcome of anything?

  • Cannonshop

    #21

    I presented the scenario as a tongue-in-cheek, even fi the “handlers” allowed it, it wouldn’t go.

    If Palin were sent to sit in for McCain, Obama would walk out, plain and simple- his teleprompter would be useless, and he’s no good unscripted.

  • Brad Schader

    A President needs to be able to handle more than one thing at a time. Are we going to delay the election if, G-d forbid, this crisis is still with us on November 4th? When the “fundamentals of the economy were strong” he did not see any problem and that was just last week when he was ahead in the polls. Now, suddenly with polls showing him trailing does he feel this overwhelming desire to do something. Barney Frank said he would not be any help because he has not cast a vote since April. Getting McCain caught up on everything is going to slow the entire process down anyway.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    “Considering that the VP should be able to fill in for the President at a moment’s notice, I think the debate should go on as scheduled, with Obama and Palin.”

    This scenario has the distinct possibility of ending with an arm wrestling match. Hence, I am for it.

  • Cindy D

    When the “fundamentals of the economy were strong” he did not see any problem and that was just last week when he was ahead in the polls.

    ROFLOL @ Brad

  • Jordan Richardson

    Oh come on.

    We all know what John McCain meant when he said “the fundamentals of the economy are strong.” He was referring to the workers.

    When John McCain says “the fundamentals of my dinner are strong,” he’s not referring to the food or even the ingredients. He’s referring to the workers that made his dinner, to the private chef and how strong he is. How dare any of us criticize that chef! He’s able to carry entire crates of watermelon over his head.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Daniel Miller

    In re comment #26: Since everyone wants to see a debate tonight, instant gratification worshipers that we are, how about having this one between Senator Biden and Governor Palin? Either should be able to step in while their Presidential running mates are off trying to assist in the Nation’s rather more important business.

    Now that would be interesting. Would first prize go to whomever managed to get his/her foot the more firmly in mouth? I assume that neither has prepared for such an extemporaneous debate, but then a President (and both are potential Presidents-in-Waiting) often have to do important things extemporaneously.

    It might well be a more interesting debate; certainly more interesting than an “empty suit” debating an “empty chair.”

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    “It might well be a more interesting debate; certainly more interesting than an “empty suit” debating an “empty chair.””

    I wouldn’t say that. Obama played Othello in high school*, so he has a way with soliloquies.

    * – probably more racist than true, but certainly believable

  • Brad Schader

    #28 I had to read that twice to pick up on the sarcasm and am so glad I did not go with my first response.

    I love the idea of a VP debate tonight. They wanted to move tonight’s debate to Oct 5 anyway, so just switch and prove that Palin is presidential material.

  • Cindy D

    ROFLOL Jordan

    That had me laughing almost as hard as watching Palin’s interview with Katie Couric.

  • Brad Schader

    It is back on according to Drudge

  • Jordan Richardson

    Yep. CNN has confirmed it. Now we’ll get to see if John McCain can stay up past 7.

  • Brad Schader

    McCain probably started worrying they might really make Plain debate tonight instead…

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Looks like the “maverick” caved in again.

  • http://www.legalarcade.com Nathaniel Edwards

    It seemed to me that McCain realized he was just coming off the apex of his popularity in this campaign. Palin sucked up all the media time (even though no one could actually talk to her) and it made the polls swing slightly over to the right, so McCain wanted things to stay that way a bit longer. Nothing is going to get done in the Senate yet, so there was never any point in them postponing the debate (I know that it’s back on now). Right now, McCain/Palin has way more campaign awareness, so they don’t need the ads as much as Obama/Biden. That’s what I think the motivation behind that move was.

  • Zedd

    I was starting to feel rather nostalgic about the train-wreck that is GW. He is so cute and all wacky. Cant hate him. He is just one of the Lords special folk. While the fact that he made it to be prez is stunning but you cant hate him. He is precious and one cant help but to rubber neck at the colossal mess that he has caused. Bless him.

    It looks like Palin is of the same cut. For some reason its just not funny any more. We are heading towards a depression. Our investments are spiraling and here is the soccer mom who is actually too busy to be a soccer mom, wanting her turn up for bat.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Whatever her failings may be, one hopes that Governor Palin knows a bit more about reading the calendar than does Dan Miller.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Daniel Miller

    El Bicho,

    Now, now. I explained that my calendar mistakes (both of them) were due to a senior moment. Us old farts gotta be given some longitude. Or is it latitude? I forget.

    Dan(Miller)

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