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Barack Obama to debate alone?

September 25, 2008 |  1:33 pm

Barack Obama, John McCain, debate, Jim Lehrer It looks like Barack Obama may have to debate himself. Word is that with or without John McCain, the candidates' to-and-fro scheduled to take place tomorrow in Oxford, Miss. will go on. Of course, without a political adversary, it won't exactly be a debate: Obama will answer questions from moderator Jim Lehrer or do a town hall-style event where he takes questions from the audience, or maybe a hybrid of both. Still, even if Obama's the only man there, voters deserve to see the Democratic candidate confronted with some tough, thoughtful questions.

Jesse Kornbluth's op-ed in today's paper suggests Lehrer be creative with questions like this one: "In 'To Kill A Mockingbird,' when 'Atticus Finch' agreed to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman, he was well aware that the small-town Alabama jury would convict his client. When was the last time you took on a cause you couldn't win, or championed legislation that couldn't possibly pass?"

Here are a couple of other suggestions:

"In one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, Abraham Lincoln, running for Senate, articulated the importance of a leader's role in shaping public opinion. Lincoln said: "Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed."  Lincoln, of course, was speaking with regard to slavery. But what critical issues facing Americans today require not just legislation, but urgently need presidential leadership when it comes to molding public opinion?

And maybe a little more concretely:

"Now that a $700 million bailout of Wall Street seems inevitable, which of the programs you promised the American people during the primaries--energy reform, health care coverage, rebuilding infrastructure or deploying more troops to Afghanistan, etc.--will you now have to abandon?"

And what would you ask the candidate(s)?

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