What to Do While Waiting for the McCain-Obama Debate

by James M. Wall

Only one day is left before the first Obama-McCain debate which has been scheduled for a year for Friday night in Oxford, Mississippi. The tension mounts. While we wait, here are suggestions for what to do while the next twenty-four hours drag by. Barack Obama assures us that he will be in Oxford, with or without John McCain. Get your popcorn ready and fasten your seat belts. 

Obama has the upper hand going into this debate.  The poll numbers have shifted in his favor. John McCain has had his Keating Five experience with the Savings and Loan collapse.  He is also not at his best in economic matters. McCain has gambled that the public will agree with him that he is putting principle above politics by possibly skipping Oxford.

Obama, in sharp contrast, insists that a candidate for president must demonstrate that he can do more than one thing at a time. After all, that 3 a.m. telephone call, first introduced to us by campaigner Hillary Clinton, could arrive simultaneously from both Korea and Pakistan. 

McCain doesn’t agree.  He refuses to debate until a bail out agreement is reached  by congressional leaders. What we have here is the classic Republican-Democratic argument for and against government regulations. 

Meantime, we wait for Friday night with one or both candidates ready to debate. The only vice presidential debate will be on October 2, in St. Louis; the final two presidential debates will come in successive weeks, October 7 and 15. When he “cancelled” his campaign Wednesday, McCain proposed that the first Obama-McCain debate be moved to October 2, taking over the Joe Biden-Sarah Palin debate slot.

What if the Debate Commission failed to find a suitable place or time for a postponed Biden-Palin standoff?It may have been that one of the factors in delaying the first debate and pushing it to October 2 was a secret hope that nothing suitable was available.

McCain might prefer to protect his vice presidential candidate from having to debate Joe Biden. Charley and Katie were polite, but tough; Joe will be much tougher and less polite.

As of late Thursday night, congressional leaders still had no agreement. So while we wait for Friday night, here are suggestions to fill the time. Some could make you laugh; others should make you weep.

Sarah Silverman, a very funny Jewish comedian, has advice for Jewish voters in Florida, especially grandparents. She should make you laugh.  Recalling what happened in 2000 when the Supremes gave Florida to George Bush, Ms. Silverman has marching orders for grandchildren.

If you are new to the internet and are unfamiliar with “links” such as the one “behind” Sarah Silverman’s name above, ask a grandchild how you may reach Ms. Silverman by clicking on her name.  If you still cannot open the link, trust me, Sarah is hard on Jewish grandparents who may not vote for Obama.  And she enlists the grandchildren to enforce her position.  

Mudflats.wordpress.com is a refreshing, insightful blog from Alaska. It reports on the latest on the religious beliefs of Sarah Palin in a a clip from 2005. The occasion: a Kenyan evangelist named Pastor Thomas Muthee visited Sarah Palin’s Assembly of God Church, in Wasilla, Alaska where he prays over, and blesses the candidate.

 Muthee gained fame within Pentecostal circles by claiming that he started his own congregation in Kenya after he defeated a local witch, Mama Jane, in a great spiritual battle, thus liberating his town from sin and opening its people to the spirit of Jesus.

Pastor Muthee blessed Sarah Palin’s candidacy for governor of Alaska during a service filmed in 2005. (Scroll down to find the specific clip after several postings). In a clip taken earlier this year, Palin recalls the Muthee visit with appreciation.   Spoiler alert: the ceremony includes references to witches and gas pipe lines. The initial Pastor Muthee clip was initially posted on Sarah Palin’s own web page. It has since been removed. 

After laughing along with Sarah Silverman and watching these clips from Wasilla, Alaska, look at two clips from Wednesday night’s Letterman CBS late night program. During the show an obviously outraged Letterman tries to adjust to having his “hero”, John McCain, cancel a scheduled appearance.

McCain’s excuse? He had suspended his campaign to rush back to Washington to solve the financial crisis. Someone in the McCain entourage failed to warn the candidate that Letterman was taping his show down the hall.

Someone on Letterman’s set noticed a live feed from the Couric show and notified Letterman that his cancelled guest had not rushed back to Washington, but was in fact, taping the Couric show.  Letterman called up the CBS “feed” and let his viewers see McCain answering Couric’s questions. McCain had obviously not suspended his campaign; he just did not want to face Letterman. 

Whatever his reason for deceiving Letterman on the cancellation, McCain made another mistake. He should have instructed his running mate Sarah Palin, to cancel her own interview with Couric. Stay through to the end of this clip to hear Governor Palin dodge three questions on McCain’s record on pushing for more government regulations. Finally, she smiles, and in her down home style, tells Curic: “I”ll try to find some and I’ll bring em to ya”.

Nor did Palin enhance her foreign policy credentials in her exchange with Couric.  The governor again gave her closeness to Russia as her “foreign policy experience”. These interviews are becoming painful to watch. It is not fair to Sarah Palin to keep throwing her into the media pit to face questions she is simply not qualified to answer.

At some point, John McCain may have to ask himself: Did I make a mistake in choosing this inexperienced person as my vice president?  There is still time for him to admit his mistake and have her step aside.  The Republican party has procedures in place to nominate a replacement. Her fundamentalist Christian base will not like it. But they are not going to vote for Obama.  Mitt Romney or even Joe Lieberman are still available, and even eager to join the ticket. 

Another old campaigner, former Democratic president Bill Clinton, has had supportive words for Obama. But his most effusive praise of late was not for the Demcoratic nominee.. Instead, Clinton has found time in the midst of a ferocious political campaign to speak in  glowing terms about. . . Sarah Palin and John McCain.?

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years.
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2 Responses to What to Do While Waiting for the McCain-Obama Debate

  1. Sue Roegge says:

    I agree with Mr. Wall. Mudflats is great. I have tried to tear myself away from this election debacle ever since I looked in the mirror during the Republican Convention and noticed my head is exploding. But I do look at Mudflats quite a lot.

    Clinton’s explanation to Larry King as to why he’s waiting until after the Jewish holidays to campaign for Obama seemed weak and suspect. Yes, he may risk irritating Jewish Floridians campaigning down there but how about being anywhere else??? I’m offended on behalf of Hillary that he’s not more openly offended by Palin. He’s always been good with words, he could make a better case against McCain /Palin without turning off undecideds if he wanted to.

  2. David says:

    Enjoyed this immensely, particularly the Letterman bit. I will enjoy watching that over and over again. 🙂

    But, I can’t share your laughter at the clips from Wasilla’s Kenyan pastoral guest. That witch doctor vs. Christian minister is a real-life reality for many African people, so while it seems odd to us, it’s not to them. In a way, I think Pentecostals are more able to converse with Global South people and understand their religions because there is a common language/assumptions about the spirit world in place.

    I don’t agree with them, but it doesn’t mean not to take them seriously, especially since Pentecostalism is the fastest growing segment of Christianity.

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