Monday, August 16, 2004

Updated August 15, 2004 at 1:00 am

Pascoe and Proft disseminating to Fred Barnes and other friendly conservatives in the National Media the written offer by Obama to hold six debates ?

Why Keyes was chosen as the Republican nominee for the Illinois Senate Seat. He is the Designated Debater. Even Juan seems to agree with that.
Juan Williams [Of the liberal NPR]: … [the Republicans] couldn’t find a Black Guy in Chicago so they went into Maryland and got Alan Keyes. I just think it is the case that the Republican bench in Illinois must be pretty thin if they have got to go get Alan Keyes.

Fred Barnes [Of the conservative Weekly Standard] : … look, the Republican Party in Illinois is in pretty pathetic shape, for sure- uh, look—Why did Alan Keyes-- who said he was against Hillary Clinton moving to New York where she hadn’t lived to become a candidate there for the Senate-- Why is he [Keyes] doing this—similarly [to Hillary] in Illinois? Because Barack Obama has proposed a half dozen or so big time Lincoln Douglas debates. Alan Keyes is a great debater and wants to be and these debates will be watched nationally. You know, two important Black leaders debating issues—it won’t just be, uh-- these will be issues of importance to everybody. But [laughter], it does show, you are right-- the poor party of Republicans in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln’s State, are [sic] in pretty sad shape.

Juan Williams: The Speaker of the House, Denny Hastert, he even had an alibi. He said he was out of town when the decision was made. He wasn’t taking responsibility for that one. The debates should be to Keyes advantage. Keyes is terrific on the stump.

Fred Barnes: He is great, yeah.
Fox’s “Beltway Boys,” [Juan Williams sitting in for Morton Kondracke, August 14, 2004].

As I have discussed in the blog entry, below [Aug. 13, 1:45 pm], contrary to the above, it looks like Obama’s campaign has withdrawn his offer of 6 Lincoln Douglas debates that Fred Barnes was looking forward to, with Barnes indicating that the debates would be “watched nationally.”

Indeed, Barack does seem to be giving Keyes a debater’s imitation of Muhammad Ali’s “Rope a Dope.”

Almost a week ago, at a press conference, Obama said, “we will have a debate in September; we have already committed to do two debates in October, and I think that that will be sufficient…” Obama Press Conference, August 10, 2004. The debate in September apparently refers to a radio debate. The debates in October apparently refer to a WLS, ch. 7-League of Women Voters’ sponsored TV debate on Oct. 21 and a WTTW sponsored TV debate on Oct. 26.

As I have argued in the blog entry, below [Aug. 13, 1:45 pm], the radio debate does not have the prominence to qualify as a Lincoln Douglas debate. If the Ch. 7 debate follows that station’s tradition and adheres to the LWV’s format, it would be more of a Snoozer1 v. Snoozer 2 than a Lincoln Douglas debate.

So, the Obama media meisters [as former AG Jim Ryan might label them] can say they are doing three debates, but everybody will know, and soon Fred Barnes, Juan Williams, George Stephanopoulos, Tim Russert and the rest of the national media will find out, too, that Barack Obama is trying to renege, gracefully, on his offer of six Lincoln Douglas TV debates, proposing, instead, at best, one real, TV debate in late October, and perhaps with not even that one debate being in the promised Lincoln Douglas style.

Barack Obama, heralded as the next Democratic Superstar and as someone who transcends race and politics, is instead doing what most pols with a lead do- engaging in double talk, staying in his Rose Garden and doing the Rope a Dope instead of the six debates he spoke of. That is perhaps Okay, if the 53% of the Democratic Primary voters who went with Barack, and the other Democratic, Independent and Republican voters who might be thinking of voting for Barack, are looking for another version of Dan Hynes. But, me, I thought they had something else in mind.

As I said to Obama’s flak catchers, they would do well to borrow a page from Ronald Reagan and let Barack be Barack.

Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at