Sunday, September 21, 2008

Missing in Action

John McCain really is a maverick. If maverick was code for incoherent, know-nothing, oddball liar. He suspends his campaign, yet his apparatchiks continue to slander Obama on the news networks. He decides he’s not going to debate the first scheduled presidential debate. Since when did we appoint John McCain to decide how our democracy plays out? If you want to run our country, you need to shows up for the interviews and take the tests, Johnny!

Enough is enough. If McCain is such a capable leader, he needs to be able to multitask – fix the economy (even thought McCain has admitted many times he doesn’t understand the economy) and debate. You know, run your campaign and also do your job as a senator. [Also, if we’re supposed to have confidence in your Alaskan soul-mate, let her face some questions and explain her qualifications and opinions.]

All of this staged, photo-op drama appears to be the usual Republican smoke and mirrors. Again, Republicans are using the fear-card to try and scare people into voting for two unfit leaders. It seems each and every day McCain opens his mouth he either has to get back to the reporter about the questions asked, he concocts some delusional contradictory explanation, or he does the usual sidestepping. Whichever, he usually sees a decrease in the polls after he open his mouth in a televised appearance. [The two interviews – here and here - Governor Palin has acquiesced to have been train-wrecks. It’s no wonder the campaign is trying to hide her.]

Josh Israel wonderfully encapsulates our presidential debate system in an article on the Center for Public Integrity’s Buying of the President 2008 website. [Excerpted below.]

“Sixty-six million viewers watched the nation’s premiere televised presidential debate, a September 26, 1960, primetime event featuring John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. It was paid for by three major television networks, but broadcast regulations prevented them from continuing their sponsorship in the next several elections.

In 1976, the independent League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to citizen education, took over. The League hosted three debates between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and one between their running mates, and sponsored debates in the 1980 and 1984 elections as well. The debates became part of the quadrennial election process, but the League’s management style ruffled some feathers among party insiders who wanted more control of the process.

Republican David Norcross, who helped form the Commission, called the League’s debate organizers “too dictatorial” and criticized them for “ignoring or avoiding the politics of the whole situation.”

The Commission on Presidential Debates began hosting televised debates in 1988. The Commission is a largely secretive tax-exempt organization, created and run by former chairmen of the two major parties, funded by a small group of unidentified major donors, and designed, it seems, to exclude nearly all third-party candidates.”

The Christian Science Monitor notes, “The Presidential Commission on Debates…requires a candidate have at least 15 percent of support in national polls to qualify for inclusion in debates. The commission does that so that it can accept corporate contributions within FEC rules.” It would be nice if this commission had some teeth, which it obviously doesn’t if John McCain can just decide not to participate. It appears the commission is more about controlling whom can enter into presidential politics, what issues will be discussed, and to make sure the corporate money keeps flowing to both parties. Is this our incessantly ballyhooed democracy we’re always trying to export?

If McCain doesn’t show up, the American people should respond to his quest for the presidency with a polite, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Obama vows to have a town-hall-style meeting with the audience if McCain chickens out and skips the debate. Barack has shown he is a real leader. He shows up, he explains himself, and he’s accountable. John McCain, body and brain, is missing in action.

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