Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Updated August 17, 2004, 3:00 pm

Obama-Keyes/ Crane-Bean: A Tale of Two Election Contests-- a Fair and Balanced Criticism of Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama and Republican 8th Cong. Dist. Incumbent and candidate for re-election Phil Crane.

Kudos to challengers Alan Keyes(R)and Melissa Bean(D) for pressing their opponents hard to hold numerous and vigorous debates and forums.

8th Cong. Dist. Candidate Forum tomorrow morning, see below for details.

As I have been saying in the context of the Obama-Keyes debate about debates, the press needs to hold all candidates’ feet to the fire, not just Obama-Keyes and push the candidates to debate each other in frequent, substantive encounters. In June, then Senate Candidate Jack Ryan challenged Senate Candidate Barack Obama to ten televised Lincoln-Douglas debates. Obama countered by offering to do six debates.

Two months later, Obama has reneged and now offers three “events,” to his opponent, Alan Keyes: One event is a September radio discussion with the two candidates. We will have to learn the ground rules, but I doubt that the format will be a Lincoln Douglas debate. [See discussion in blog entry, immediately below].

Obama has accepted two “televised events,” for late October. One, the ABC-7, League of Women Voters (“LWV”), as discussed in the blog entry below, if tradition continues, will surely not be a debate and may barely qualify as a forum. The other, a WTTW event, if history is a predictor of the future, will be a rigorous discussion at which the candidates will be pressed, as they should be, and the event might even be turned into a Lincoln Douglas debate.

In short, Obama is doing politics as usual, and converting his offer to do six televised Lincoln Douglas debates to what is at best one such debate.

Of course, this has nothing to do with who is a Republican or a Democrat. As we can see-- when we turn to the 8th Cong. Dist. Race, where Melissa Bean [D- Barrington] is challenging, for the second straight election cycle, 35 year incumbent Cong. Phil Crane [R- Wauconda]. [Last time around, Crane won 57-43]. Following in the rich tradition of political doubletalk that Obama has now fallen into, we have Cong. Crane’s campaign staff ducking and dodging [see below] a solo appearance on my program and candidate forums, let alone real televised debates.

Crane and Bean have held one joint forum, which apparently followed the LWV model, of two candidates constrained to standing up, side by side, and answering the same questions, as opposed to “debating each other.”

An apparently similarly formatted forum is scheduled for tomorrow in Round Lake for Bean and Crane [The event is an 8th Cong. District Candidates Forum, to be held on Wednesday, August 18th from 8:00 am to 9:00 am at the Round Lake Village Hall, 1937 North Municipal Way, Round Lake Beach, IL 60073. Hosted by: Lake County Economic Development Corporation, moderated by Hal Coxon]

Crane’s press person, Tami Stough, has told me the Crane campaign may agree to do more forums or to do my show, but more likely they are going to use their time to meet people directly, as they think that is the best way to get their candidate in front of the voters.

Balderdash. The Cong. Phil Crane line is the same kind of political doubletalk that we are hearing from Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate Obama as to why he can’t/won’t do the six televised Lincoln Douglas debates that he initially challenged his then opponent to do.

Melissa Bean, on the other hand, has taped my show and is rearing to face Cong. Crane in televised debates, forums, whatever. Bean wants to make the 8th Cong. Dist. Campaign what it should be—a vigorous discussion by the candidates with each other, on as much TV as possible, of the public policy issues that the voters should have the opportunity to see and hear discussed.

Instead, Cong. Crane offers two stiff forums for the 8th Cong. District race.

Alan Keyes wants six rigorous, face to face, Lincoln Douglas televised debates to help voters decide the U. S. Senate election

Instead, Barack Obama offers the voters one real, televised vigorous discussion of the issues by the two senate candidates, which may or may not be a debate, let alone a Lincoln- Douglas debate.

Melissa Bean, meet Alan Keyes.

Barack Obama, meet Phil Crane.

Politics makes strange bedfellows, indeed.

Me, I will just keep blogging and flogging and I am very curious to see when the mainstream media, including the editorial boards, e.g., the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times will join me in highlighting this issue. But, I won’t hold my breath.

Of course, Obama and Crane are certainly not the only-- or even the worst sinners in the Congregation, but they are as good a place as any to start.
Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at

From Next Week’s Suburban edition of Public Affairs, which features Melissa Bean, the Democratic 8th Cong. Dist. Candidate from Barrington, IL, who is challenging Republican 35 year incumbent Phil Crane (Wauconda).
Jeff Berkowitz: The national Democratic Party’s platform, I believe, supports the Patriot Act.

Melissa Bean: Um- Hmm.

Berkowitz: A lot of Democrats don’t realize that. No.1, Are you aware of that and No. 2, do you agree with that position?

Bean: The Patriot Act, I think, was a reasonable response to the events of 9/11.

Berkowitz: So, you would have voted to support it?

Bean: And, we absolutely need to do some of that. There was some merit in the border control issues; in shared intelligence between different agencies. But, I think, wisely, Congress chose to put a sunset provision in it so we could go back and really evaluate what was working—where maybe we overstretched--so that we can balance civil liberties

Berkowitz: Are there things specifically that you would change-- that you know now that you would want changed before you [would] vote to continue [to keep] it [the Patriot Act].

Bean: Well, certainly I think people are a little uncomfortable with their library records, you know, being investigated for no purpose.

Berkowitz: Are they? We are going to interrupt just to say that we are going to continue to speak as the credits roll but I very much want to thank Melissa Bean—she is the Democratic candidate in the 8th Cong. District. She is challenging Cong. Phil Crane, this is his 35th year.

Berkowitz: I should say to our viewers that we have invited Cong. Crane [to come] on this show. We told his press person a month ago—let us know dates that he can do it and we will try to accommodate him. That was in July. I thought there would be some day between then and November 2 [that Cong. Crane could tape our show, “Public Affairs,” and we were told there were no days. So, I say that although we don’t endorse candidates; we do endorse the notion that everybody should do what Melissa Bean is doing --- in coming here and subjecting herself to some tough questions. And, being a good sport about that—but seriously, in educating the viewers and her voters.

Bean: It is important.

Berkowitz: And, [Cong.] Phil Crane should do it. He has done it before [he has taped our show twice in the last few years] but we are having trouble getting him on now and he should come on with Melissa Bean—I have extended that invitation to Cong. Crane’s staff [to appear for more of a real debate on my show; they said they would get back to me, but have not yet done so]. You would be happy to appear with Cong. Crane?

Bean: I would be happy to come out and [appear on the program with him]. We have been trying to get Phil Crane to come out for three years.

Berkowitz: There are debates [candidate forums] coming up. Those things should be videotaped [and televised]. We understand there has been some concern [objection expressed by the Crane campaign to video-taping of these forums by non-media members] but I have been told by the Crane campaign that it has no objection to the press coming and videotaping [these candidate forums]. There is a debate [candidate forum] this Wednesday [Aug. 18]. Right?

Bean: And, we are hoping he is going to be there, in Round Lake.

Berkowitz: When is that?

Bean: 8:00 [am]

Berkowitz: 8:00 in the morning

Bean: Right. And, you can go to www.melissabean.com and we will get you some information. [The event is an 8th Cong. District Candidates Forum, to be held on Wednesday, August 18th from 8:00 am to 9:00 am at the Round Lake Village Hall, 1937 North Municipal Way, Round Lake Beach, IL 60073. Hosted by: Lake County Economic Development Corporation, moderated by Hal Coxon]
Melissa Bean, 8th Cong. Dist. Candidate [D- Barrington], interviewed on “Public Affairs,” recorded on August 14, 2003, in a show that will be cablecast in many NW Chicago Cook County and Lake County suburbs the week of August 23, 2004 and in the City of Chicago on Monday, August 30, 2004 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV].