Frantic Conservatives Trying To Ditch The Sarah Palin Debate

Let’s face it. They have a right to be scared. Conservative activists have seen Sarah Palin humiliate herself and her Party repeatedly. She can’t name a single newspaper or magazine that she reads, or cite a Supreme Court decision other than Roe v. Wade, or give an example of McCain’s maverickiness. She doesn’t know who Hamas is. She adopts Obama’s policy toward cross-border attacks in Pakistan (then denies that she did so). And she asserts that her fresh face and new ideas (see Barack Obama) make her a better candidate than Joe Biden because he is just an old guy who has been in the Senate for a long time (see John McCain).

She has still only been permitted to be interviewed twice in the thirty-three days since McCain tapped her for his VP. She is being purposefully sequestered from the media and any serious inquiry into her positions or her past. There have been conservative commentators calling for her to be dropped from the ticket for the good of her Party and the country. And last week McCain suggested that the VP debate be postponed until some undetermined date and replaced by the first presidential debate.

Obviously, they don’t want the debate to proceed. And the latest evidence of that is a new effort to remove the debate’s moderator, Gwen Ifill of PBS. The argument is that Ifill has authored a book that prevents her from being objective. The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” is scheduled to be released January 20, 2009. The book is a study of how…

“…the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s.”

For the book Ifill interviews Obama, as well as Republicans like Colin Powell. By all accounts, the book is not political advocacy, but an exploration of race in contemporary politics. But the controversy being manufactured by the likes of Fox News, National Review, and Human Events is a thinly disguised attempt to kill the debate. Even if their allegations were valid, it would be very difficult to find a replacement for Ifill literally on the eve of the debate. They would have to find someone who was able to immediately clear their calendar and then would still come to the event unprepared – no research, no questions, no context for engaging the participants. The only viable option would be to delay the debate to some undetermined date, just as they tried to do last week.

This is yet another transparent attempt to sabotage the debate by having it canceled or by preemptively discrediting the results. How convenient to have a reason to disregard the whole affair should Palin, true to form, embarrass herself. This dust up could also have the effect of influencing Ifill’s performance as moderator. She may decide to bend over backwards to avoid the appearance of bias and, consequently, display bias in favor of Palin.

We can only hope that the cynical manipulations of the rightists orchestrating this controversy are not successful, and that Ifill relies on her own sense of professional ethics and not the rantings of frightened partisans.