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Friday, September 26, 2008

Put Up Or Shut Up Weekend . . . Maybe

The time has finally come to resolve the National League East and watch the two presidential candidates actually have a debate. Not necessarily in that order of importance, although the NL East will likely offer up more concrete answers than either John McCain or Barack Obama.

Of course, none of this may happen if rain washes out baseball on the east coast, or McCain decides he’s too busy focusing on showing what a leader he is by getting involved in the bailout of the economy. He’s already admitted he doesn’t understand it much more than the average American (including me), so that doesn’t sound all that intelligent, but I guess it sounded good to someone.

Listening to Michael Bradley this morning I was shocked to hear Phillies fans whining that Lou Piniella is resting some of his regulars this weekend as the Cubs play Milwaukee. Get real, folks. The Cubs wrapped up their playoff fate, and have every right to rest their players. If the Phillies had taken care of business against Atlanta they wouldn’t have to worry about the Brewers or the Mets this weekend.

Bottom line they still don’t. All three teams are playing teams with nothing to win this weekend. The Brewers might have a slight edge because their opponent is going to the playoffs and has a reason to rest. But the Marlins face the Mets with nothing but tee-times on the horizon, and the Phillies face a Nationals squad that has been focused on vacation for months.

I’ll admit, I thought it was “over” after play on Monday. Now, having watched the Phillies bring the season down to the last weekend again, I’m not so sure it’s not “over” in a completely different way even if the Fightin’ Phils make the playoffs.

If tonight’s game is rained out, at least I won’t have to flip back and forth between the game and the debate. I’ve already learned the perils of commenting on politics on a blog, but I will be very disappointed not to see a debate after all this time.

I’ve watched more CNN in the last year than I have in my entire life. I find the coverage of the presidential election almost as distressing as the politics of it. Thursday morning (or maybe Wednesday night) was the first time I had heard McCain “suspended” his campaign to focus on the economic disaster we seem to be facing. Yet the next thing I saw, Thursday morning, was a) him giving what amounted to a campaign speech, and b) some analyst talking about how his suspending his campaign and Obama’s reaction to it played to voters.

If you listen to the so-called political experts, they sound a hell of a lot like sports broadcasters. CNN was advertising their post-debate by literally telling viewers to tune in to find out who won and lost the debate. I realize we have the governor of Pennsylvania on Eagles Post Game Live here in the Philadelphia area, but shouldn’t analysis of the presidential campaign be a little more sophisticated than that? Why don’t we just turn the debate into a version of Around the Horn where sports reporters are given points for good and bad comments.

The most distressing thing may be that if I am flipping back and forth between baseball and the debate, baseball is the one that won’t have a clock on it! Senator McCain, you have two minutes to explain what you’ll do about the economy. Ready . . . go!

Unlike the millions who discuss politics, I’ll admit I don’t know everything. In fact, I’m generally trying to understand what’s going on long after people are screaming their opinions about it. I thought it was laughable to watch people at the Republican convention cheer McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Not because of the opinion I’ve since formed of her, but because people who cover politics for a living didn’t know who she was and I feel very safe in saying that neither did 99% of those that were suddenly in love with her.

So, I’d like to see the two men campaigning to run this country in mere weeks show up and have an actual debate tonight. I’d like to see a strong moderator throw away the stop watch used to time answers, yet have the ability to halt campaign speeches disguised as responses to questions. I’d like to see a panel of journalists be able to question answers from both candidates that aren’t based on fact. Not the journalists’ or candidates’ slant on the facts, but cold, hard fact.

What are their achievable plans to protect us from terrorism? Has the surge in Iraq really done anything? Which plan raises taxes on whom? What is the whole story on the bridge to nowhere? Will drilling for oil really do anything for gas prices? How exactly are they going to get us off foreign oil?

Personally, I’d like to know what they’re going to do to help people with disabilities looking for fair employment, but I won’t ask for more miracles. I’m guessing I have a better chance at the Phillies clinching the NL East than hearing real answers from the next president – whoever he may be – this weekend.

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