Few controversies of the presidential campaign seem less momentous once they conclude than the traditional “debate over debates.” One campaign pushes for more debates, the other pushes for fewer, and the two perform a ridiculous tango of dudgeon, disappointment, and expectations-gaming. As with so much else in this long, long campaign, the debate over debates has started early this year.
John McCain is pressing Barack Obama to join him for ten town hall-style debates, while the Obama campaign has countered with an offer of five debates, only one of which would be a town hall. But, posturing aside, how much will the debates, and the rest of the campaign, really tell us about the next presidency?
Obama's defining political skill may prove to be his ability to parry attacks and turn them to his advantage. It kept his campaign moving forward and upward when others would have found themselves unable to go on.
John McCain maintains that he doesn't exploit his captivity in Vietnam for his campaign, but in reality he can barely talk about anything else. That's fine, but McCain's service should be the start of a conversation -- not the end of one
When John Kerry made his Vietnam heroism a centerpiece of his 2004 presidential campaign, his colleague John McCain thought it unwise. "I said, ‘Look, you shouldn't talk about Vietnam because everybody else will. Let everybody else do it,'" McCain told the Washington Post. "In my  campaign, as you know, I didn't talk about it because I didn't need to."
In his current round of rejecting and denouncing his radical cleric supporters John Hagee and Rod Parsley, John McCain was careful to note, "I've never been to Pastor Hagee's church or Pastor Parsley's church. I didn't attend their church for 20 years. I'm not a member of their church." In other words, my relationship with them is much less important than Barack Obama's relationship with Jeremiah Wright.