Our long national nightmare will soon be over—I refer, of course, to those yawn-provoking presidential debates.

It’s customary to comment on these debates in terms of “gaffes”—if a candidate makes a boo boo, even if it’s a misstatement of something he knows, he loses. In trying to avoid gaffes, candidates seek safe harbor in the regurgitation of campaign talking points. The result is a boring evening that reveals little about the two men who would be president.

No, I am not suggesting they answer the questions! Puh-leeze. Sarah Palin didn’t answer Gwen Ifill’s (silly) questions either. But Palin used the evening to present herself as sort of Fargo’s Marge Gunderson writ large—in other words, a woman who just might be able to do a darn good job running the country. You betcha.

So, no, I am not advising to the candidates to answer moderator Bob Schieffer’s questions tomorrow night. That would be boring! I am advising them to use this time well—just like Sarah did. Senator Obama’s main job: just show up, looking presidential. That’s just about all he must do. Senator McCain, the underdog, has a harder job.

McCain is a gambling man and tomorrow night he has to gamble: he must step out and make some key points, because nobody is going to make them far him. To do this, McCain will have to sacrifice something near and dear to his heart: his moral vanity. Not his honor, mind you, but the kind of moral vanity that makes believe in his heart of hearts that someday the mainstream media will like him again. It is this vanity that makes him tell supporters they have nothing to fear from Senator Obama. Nice sentiment, very gentlemanly and all, Senator, but hardly what it takes to get people to the polls Nov. 4

Speaking of getting people to the polls, Senator McCain has to talk about ACORN’s alleged propensity not only to get the quick and the dead to register to vote, not once but many times. Obama was their general counsel, they were hired to work for his campaign at one point, and they also contributed, in a small way, to the current financial crisis by badgering bankers to give loans to people who can’t repay them. The result of giving loans to people who can’t repay them is that they don’t repay them. Got it?

Almost as significant as ACORN’s dabbling in the voter rolls, the organization’s agenda reportedly includes rolling back the work requirements for welfare recipients. McCain, noting that Obama has hailed ACORN as an organization that would help him set policy (see video), might end his little excursion into this nutty subject with a joke: Why do dead voters prefer Senator Obama? Because they won’t have to pay his taxes.It’s yours, Senator.


Bill Ayres is another matter that the senator’s moral vanity makes him loath to raise on national TV. He’d prefer to outsource this distasteful matter to surrogates. But he has to do it himself, because, as the National Review’s indispensable excellent Campaign Spot has noted, “In the end the candidate has to make the argument.”The media will ignore or call raising it character assassination unless the candidate himself says it in a forum they can’t ignore. That forum is the debate. Bill Ayres matters for a number of reasons. Do you want American capitalism, the most productive system in the history of mankind and now in turmoil, reshaped by the revolutionary Mr. Ayres’ friend? Secondly, Ayres advocated a form of education that turns children into not thinkers but radicals. A good summary of this is found in Andrew Breitbard’s piece entitled “No Child Left Benign:”


“From 1995 to 1999, Mr. Obama oversaw the Annenberg Challenge, a nearly $100 million Chicago-based education-reform group co-founded by unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. …

“Fitting the narrative, the Social Justice High School in Chicago was created in an act of political protest. The first words on its main campus’ Web site at the ‘About Us’ tab make it clear that public funds are intended to develop future Moveon.org and ACORN-style activists: ‘On May 13th, 2001, fourteen community residents of Little Village neighborhood staged a nineteen-day hunger strike demanding the construction of a new high school.’”