Kitsap’s Take on the Debate Gamble

Earlier this week we posted a survey online following Sen. John McCain’s suggestion that the debate be postponed. The response was pretty heavy, almost 400 people at last check.

The group believing that putting aside politics to work on the problem was about 30 percent. Those arguing that McCain was afraid to debate Sen. Barack Obama was about 38 percent. Another 19 percent said the debate was more important than any role he might play in the debate right now.

Thursday morning, after watching a collection of pundits on Wednesday, I thought there was one way McCain wins in this thing. My colleagues thought of another. My theory was that if McCain descends on the Senate and gets much of the credit for helping come up with a bipartisan deal, that’s a big win for McCain, who has made the case that he has experience bridging divides. My colleagues at work here said he scores points even if that doesn’t happen, because he’s seen as getting back to work, setting aside his primary political ambition for the good of the country.

On the other hand, he canceled his Letterman appearance Wednesday night saying he had to get to Washington. In fact he stayed in New York until Thursday. His campaign said it wasn’t time to be funny, but that isn’t what he told Dave, according to Dave. In a New Republic blog, I read how the debate spectacle was a win for Obama, at least until the actual debate, which now appears will happen at 6 p.m. our time.

By announcing he’s suspending his campaign to, you know, do the job for which he draws a salary, McCain is basically conceding he hasn’t been doing it for the last year-and-a-half, which could rub a lot of people the wrong way.

By contrast, in rejecting McCain’s offer to postpone the debate, Obama gets to maintain the fiction that he’s been doing his job all along.

Read The Stump blog at The New Republic and you’ll quickly realize it’s still way too early to decide whether McCain wins the campaign suspension scenario, or if Obama does. McCain could argue that Democrats had the votes and didn’t perform, etc. I know this whole thing isn’t supposed to be about politics, but politics is all about managing the perception, and perception is pretty much all Americans have to go one right now

2 thoughts on “Kitsap’s Take on the Debate Gamble

  1. Well, McCain got embarrassed into going to the debate! This will be good. Foreign policy and national security are supposed to be his strong suites. Let’s see if he can connect the dots.

  2. Steve,
    The problem with people seeing McCain as not have been doing his job is that Obama must not have been doing his either. They’re both senators. Only partisians could be blind to that logic.

    It is a good philosophical question though, whether done to influence the public or not. The banking thing is a major crisis to the country. Do you do what you are paid to do, or do you assume your constituency would have you do what you are not paid to do for some greater good? I guess the decision should lie with the citizens of Arizona, but there wasn’t much time for a poll there.

    If this had come up during Al Gore’s candidacy, his own state of Tennesee would have wanted him to forgo the candidate’s debate. They didn’t want to see him as President and it cost him the election. He would have won even without Florida’s votes. It’s important to keep those that have elected you happy.

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