In a telephone call this week, where Mr. Obama called Mr. McCain to congratulate him on his convention speech, advisers said, Mr. Obama asked his rival if he would like to appear together at Ground Zero. Mr. McCain immediately agreed, aides said, and both candidates approved the joint statement and directed their campaign managers to work out the details.
It will be the first of several joint appearances by Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama in the next two months, including the three sanctioned presidential debates that begin on Sept. 26.
I wasn’t trying to be entirely cynical in my prefatory comment to this, though one must be — it is a way to draw a sting from each other and to tread around something rather than put it front and center, hiding in plain sight as it were. I am wondering if they will speak at the ceremony or at the forum at Columbia later that day, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they chose not to — if they do, I half guess they will trade off on who speaks first, and I suspect they will not address their campaigns directly. It’ll be spun this way and that, and probably already is, but even I weary of these kinds of games sometimes.
It is, however, a reminder that people do still have to talk to each other, and should, the more openly so when the rank in power is so much the greater. (That too sounds flippant but you get my meaning — it is partially that which drove the Obama/Murdoch discussion some months back.) At the end of the day, three of the four major candidates will be in the Senate and/or the White House in some way, shape or form, and will all still want and need to talk to one another to get things done. It’s just the way of the dance.
(The fourth, of course, isn’t talking to anybody much right about now, and we all know why. Todd Harris, a GOP strategist, saying that this is being done so she doesn’t make a ‘mistake’ — his words, not mine — reminds me about how for a pitbull with lipstick the phrase ‘all bark and no bite’ is starting to sound a little more relevant. Then again, do barracudas bark to begin with?
David Frum has looked at this pseudo-strategy and has put forward a pretty solid case from the conservative side as to why this silence matters — and is damaging — concluding:
If you want to win a debate, you have to come prepared to debate for every audience at every level. We can all understand that it is unwise to refuse Oprah. But it is equally unwise to do only Oprah. It’s not just Jay Carney who wants more. As President Bush’s current numbers suggest, so does Oprah’s audience.
Right now, do they even think she can win? And as Frum notes in a posted reply to an e-mail he received supporting Palin:
I am not denying that Sarah Palin may have great skills. She may well. I am insisting that neither you, nor I, nor John McCain has any valid reason to believe that she does. This is not an argument about the attributes she lacks. It’s an argument about the information we lack.
The vacuum nature abhors is being filled heavily right about now. The only one who can change that is saying nothing. Good job, there.)