Noam Doesn’t Like the Townhall Idea

TNR’s Noam Scheiber dissents on the idea of McCain and Obama “jointly campaigning:”

McCain has several big disadvantages vis-a-vis Obama. He faces a massive enthusiasm gap and will have trouble attracting large crowds. He’s in all likelihood going to be massively outraised and outspent, making it hard to get his message out. And, possibly as a result of the previous problem, he’ll be cast as a right-winger determined to continue George Bush’s policies.

The unmoderated debates would help him overcome all three problems. They’ll draw big crowds and generate lots of buzz. They’ll help him get his message out for free. And, just by virtue of appearing frequently at Obama’s side and having a civil debate, they’ll make him look much more moderate than the Obama campaign wants him to look.

While not an advantage per se, the rationale for Obama seems clear; further building upon his promise of a “new politics,” and the chance to foresake conventional electoral advantages in the name of discussing issues. It furthers his narrative and, presumably, his message carries more favor with the American public than the GOP message at present. It is a political gamble, but at the end of the day successful politics is always a gamble at the beginning. What would we have called a decision to run against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination this year in 2005 if not a huge political gamble?

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