09 June 2008
Obama + McCain vs. Bloomberg?
We might have received a first hint of a McCain-Obama consensus on the town-meeting scheme in their rejection of Michael Bloomberg's invitation to hold a show in his town, to be broadcast on ABC. The candidates apparently don't want their joint appearances to be single-network productions. They're hoping for multiple-network broadcasts, as was once usual for general-election debates, along with live Internet feeds. As I said before, my hunch is that neither man wants to be subject to headhunting from some hot-shot moderator looking for a "gotcha" moment. Bloomberg's role in this episode is mysterious. He still gets mentioned as a possible running mate for both candidates, but did he imagine himself as the moderator? Did he hope to raise his national profile by interrogating the two leading contenders? McCain and Obama were probably asking the same questions. From their viewpoints, it was probably presumptuous of Bloomberg even to extend an invitation. Should the two senators agree on a schedule of events, they'll probably want to set the agenda themselves, without kibitzing from the news networks or interlopers like Bloomberg. I hope the networks don't get snitty about this. It's not as if they're the fourth branch of government, after all. They're not entitled to consult with the candidates about debates. It seems to me that if McCain and Obama want to have a yelling contest in Madison Square Garden or in a Kansas cornfield, it's news no matter what, and the networks ought to cover it without trying to make their talent the star of the show. Until January, they should be saving their gotcha questions for the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue rather than the next one.