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Mr. McCain's Dodge

POSTED: September 26, 2008, 12:00 am

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So, now Senator John McCain has decided to suspend his campaign and has called for a delay in his scheduled debate with Senator Barack Obama tonight at the University of Mississippi. His rationale: the current economic crisis warrants his full attention and all efforts should be placed on resolving issues around President Bush’s bailout proposal.

Are we to believe that Senator McCain is going to be central to the negotiations and cannot take part in discussions and campaign at the same time? If so, how is he going to serve as President and govern if he cannot focus on more than one issue at a time? His reasoning is suspect and we are discouraged by what appears to be a naked attempt to politicize the current crisis at a time when polls show Mr. McCain trailing his opponent, Senator Barack Obama.

For months now we have seen the McCain campaign project the Arizona senator as a leader who is ready to serve in moments of crisis. His decision to suspend his campaign is not an act of leadership; it’s an act of retreat. What better way to demonstrate the strength of our democracy than to continue the presidential campaign while we also confront the looming economic crisis? What if President Franklin Roosevelt had stopped the affairs of the nation at the onset of World War II? In the greatest threat to our nation, it was the courage to live free and courageously that established our prominence on the world stage. We send a message to the world that we are a strong nation, capable of handling our issues while continuing to take care of the business at hand. Suspending the campaign is precisely the wrong message to send to the world at this time.

We encourage Senator Obama to maintain his insistence that the presidential debate take place tomorrow in Mississippi. This is one of the most critical elections in our nation’s history. We are a nation at war; two of them. We are a nation in economic crisis. It is time to hear from the two candidates who are foremost under consideration by the electorate, one of them who will be sworn in as President of the United States come January 2009. To cancel this debate is a disservice to our nation and an insult to voters. Americans are wise enough to know that the involvement of Senators McCain and Obama in the current negotiations should not preclude their ability to debate the important issues of the day. After all, this debate has been on the schedule for months so both candidates should be well prepared to engage each other.

To Mr. McCain and his campaign team we suggest that this move or tactic does not serve him well. If his desire is truly to “put America first,” as his campaign materials promote, this is the moment, the time, to demonstrate true leadership and make certain that our democratic process is not sidetracked by the crisis at hand. Truly putting nation first means refusing to be distracted by events or crisis, and setting an example for the American people that our nation cannot be unhinged even in moments of great national concern.

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