Monday, May 12, 2008

A Respectable Debate

Andrew Sullivan says that Noam Scheiber says that Obama shouldn't have unmoderated debates with McCain because:
I don't see the upside for Obama.
That's true, there is very little upside for Obama. McCain has very little going for him in this election, and any additional exposure he gets will (most likely) increase his support. It is very easy to suggest things like public financing of campaigns and these unmoderated debates--which would be conducted Lincoln-Douglas-style in front of audiences around the country--when you are the underdog. It is much harder when you are the frontrunner, when there is a cost to doing so.

But I would be disappointed in Obama if he did not try to set a precedent in this race, even if it comes at a cost to his campaign. I'd love to see a series of joint public appearances with McCain. Public financing is a bit dicier, because it is hard to argue that Obama is unduly influenced by money when none of his funding comes from PACs or lobbies and most of it is in small donations. It's hard to know where to draw the line, but I hope that this is an election that shifts the structure of campaigns to a new, better equilibrium.