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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hello? Is it Me You’re Looking For?

posted by on June 4 at 10:30 AM

I love this epic game of post-primary phone tag that Obama and Clinton have been playing. Halperin went as far as to chronicle the missed connections, which have now been upgraded to brief chats and even a “brief encounter”—with the possibility of an actual conversation in the coming weeks.

Is it really to be believed that two of the most powerful people in America, and their attendant schedulers and aides, cannot make a real conversation happen immediately? Of course not. But it’s nonetheless fun to watch the Clinton-Obama game of “I really want to talk to you but things are crazy right now.”

In other communication news, John McCain all but sent a messenger on horseback to Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago, which this morning received a hand-delivered invitation (embossed? on parchment? written in calligraphy?) to a series of Goldwater-Kennedy-style debates.

Which led an Obama aide to say to McCain’s messenger: “You could have just e-mailed.

However, Obama likes the idea of a running series of debates before the Democratic convention—and wants them to be even longer and more free-form than the McCain camp is proposing.

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Good, anything to move on from this primary and take focus away from "I ain't quittin' nohow let's do a shot together" Clinton.

Posted by Lou | June 4, 2008 10:34 AM

i heard on npr this morning that clinton and obama scheduled a time to meet sometime this week.

Posted by tiffany | June 4, 2008 10:34 AM

Anyone actually surprised that McCain uses Pony Express to deliver his mail?

And good, get Clinton off the TV.

Posted by Banna | June 4, 2008 10:35 AM

From a practical standpoint, I think the debates are a bad idea, for the simple reason that Obama has far more resources at his disposal, and these debates will just be squandering that advantage and providing free publicity for McCain.

Posted by tsm | June 4, 2008 10:41 AM

im no strategist, but i would put senator obama and old man mccain in the same room as much as is humanly possible.

obama will eat him alive.

Posted by SeMe | June 4, 2008 10:41 AM

I can't wait til that old fuck debates Obama. It is going to be great watching O wipe the floor with him...

Posted by Mike in MO | June 4, 2008 10:42 AM

Isn't McCain suggesting 10 debates? I like the general idea, but no way, no how should Obama agree to that many. Look what happened with the Obama-Clinton debates, specifically the last one, chock full of nothing but gotcha questions.

Posted by keshmeshi | June 4, 2008 10:47 AM

Has the junior Senator from New York checked up on her state lately? I bet there are any number of pressing issues in a big, important state like New York that could use the personal attention of a diligent legislator.

Posted by elenchos | June 4, 2008 10:48 AM

Odrama is a bad debater because he's just an empty suit full of fancy rhetorics and no substance.

Posted by Odrama | June 4, 2008 10:55 AM


Dude. You have zero creativity. Zero.

Posted by elenchos | June 4, 2008 10:57 AM

Letters are more formal than e-mail.

Obama has given letters to Bush. I dont really see what the big deal-OOHH yeah, to demean McCain. So maturely too.

This is how it shouldve gone I guess..(over AIM)

PvtMcCain: Hey budY! wana DB8?
O8ama: OMG!!! K!!!
PvtMcCain: K thnks bai!

Posted by Shane | June 4, 2008 11:01 AM

AHAHAHAH!!! You could have just emailed. HI-freaking-larious.

I think lengthy free flowing debates are a fantastic idea.

I agree that McCain wants to do them because he's poor and needs the free publicity. But come on. You put Obama and McCain next to each other, and who looks more presidential?

It's no contest. It's Nixon/Kennedy all over again. Except more lopsided.

Posted by arduous | June 4, 2008 11:09 AM

Okay @11 was even funnier.

I think Obama and McCain should make one of their 10 debates a lol cat debate, entirely over IM entirely in lol cat speak.

Posted by arduous | June 4, 2008 11:12 AM

Debates are great if done properly. The current fashion of debates where the moderator asks questions should be stopped. It leads to the "gotcha" questioning and no real substance.

Instead, each debate should be a topic or series of topics, such as Iraq War, Universal Health Care, etc. Each candidate could prepare to not only give their position, but also question the other candidate. That is, statement, reply, rebuttal. This would lead to actual substance rather than blathered shooting from the hip nonsense.

It would also take the spotlight of the moderators. They would actually be moderators, i.e., enforce the rules rather than be a part of the story.

Posted by Medina | June 4, 2008 11:13 AM

i agree with medina. moderators have far to much influence on the matter.

Posted by tiffany | June 4, 2008 11:19 AM

Moderators give the candidates a ready excuse for a poor debate. "The moderator/the media was unfair to me." If you're getting hard questions from your opponent, you can't whine "My opponent was too hard on me."

The campaigns like this format because it reduces their risk exposure. You can either win or blame the media, rather than risk a clear loss.

Posted by elenchos | June 4, 2008 11:25 AM

I'm a little worried that McCain's been getting much more experience with the town hall format, while Obama's been more with the speechifying. However, you get the two of them on-stage, and Obama's going to come across as much healthier and far more energetic than McCain. Should be fun to watch.

Posted by Odrama's Mama | June 4, 2008 11:27 AM

McCain's crowd are scared of email.

They lost a lot of money helping out African princes and Iraqi military vets with wives stuck in Iraq who needed their help to get the money out of the country ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 11:32 AM

Actually, the notion that Obama would wipe the floor with McCain is wishful thinking.

Obama is a great orator and gives good speeches, but he isn't all that quick on his feet in a debate. He didn't really do all that great when debating Hillary in the primaries. I thought she often outperformed him in that context.

McCain, on the other hand, is much better in debate than he is in a prepared speech. His prepared speeches suck ass. But he generally handled himself well in the republican primary debates. He's an old fart, but that also means he's been doing this for a long time, and has had a lot more practice than Obama.

I think Obama would do reasonably well, depending on the style of the debates and the assholishness of the moderator (who suck ass much more than any of the candidates possibly could). But it won't be as lopsided as some of you think. Worse, if everyone is expecting Obama to cream McCain, but fails to meet expectations, he could end up looking bad even if he marginally wins a debate. And Bush is probably one of the worst debaters in the world, but look who is president now.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | June 4, 2008 11:55 AM

"Come into my parlor," said the spider to the fly.

Posted by tabletop_joe | June 4, 2008 12:12 PM

@ 19

when it comes to a classic debate format old man mccain is no hillary clinton.

senator obama is indeed going to wipe the floor with him.

Posted by SeMe | June 4, 2008 12:20 PM

Hillary Clinton is a master of the debate format, and while she did better than him in most of the debates in a technical sense, he showed a steadiness and intelligence that benefited him in the end more than her. I think the only debate that hurt him was the Wright/Ayers/flag pin gotcha debacle, and that was a matter of a poor format and not his debating ability.

John McCain is nowhere near as good of a debater as Hillary Clinton. He's perfectly able, and could certainly best someone like John Kerry, Al Gore, Walter Mondale, or Michael Dukakis. Obama's a lot better in debates than any of those Democratic losers.

There are five months in this campaign. You don't want more than one debate a month. June is transition month for Obama and August is convention month. That leaves one pre-convention debate in July as a test run, one in September a week after Labor Day, and one or two debates in October. Plus a meaningless VP debate somewhere in the middle of October.

Posted by Cascadian | June 4, 2008 12:55 PM

Meaningless VP debate? We learned that Dick Cheney really is a power-mad insane person - but we didn't pay attention then.

Nowdays, the VP choice is way more important, because we've seen the VP powers abused for eight years.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 2:51 PM

"He's perfectly able, and could certainly best someone like John Kerry, Al Gore, Walter Mondale, or Michael Dukakis."

I think this is...debatable. McCain has this tendency to get down into the weeds of policy details during free-form events like the debates and his town halls. A policy wonk like Gore (and Kerry to a lesser degree) would be a formidable rival in that situation. Given Gore's much better grasp of the details, he would tear McCain to shreds on substance, and without Bush's aww-shucksing dimwit charm it would be hard for the press to do any damage control for him.

Posted by Bison | June 4, 2008 6:05 PM

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