The Times and NY Post Agree: Hillary, Stop Hiding

It's a rare case when The New York Times and New York Post editorial pages agree. But it's happened thanks to the run-and-hide strategy of Hillary Clinton.

Today's Times calls on Clinton to debate me, saying, "Since Mr. Tasini is running an antiwar campaign, it would be very useful for New Yorkers to have a chance to hear the two Democratic candidates debate that one issue."

The Post, in arguing for my inclusion in a debate on NY1, said about the incumbent: "But her stance on Iraq - always adaptable to changing circumstances - could stand a little clarification." Actually, two other papers--Newsday and the Albany Times Union--have also pressed the case for a debate.

Yet, the incumbent is nowhere to be found outside of the bubble of her political machine. She does not want to face hard questions about her support for the Iraq war and occupation, not to mention a host of other issues on which the majority of New York Democratic do not share her views (her opposition to single-payer health care and same-sex marriage, and her support for NAFTA, the death penalty and a bill to criminalize flag burning, to mention just a few issues).

There is a fundamental issue of democratic debate here. Our political and media system now takes for granted that incumbents try their best to avoid debating opponents--and they empower incumbents to do so by hesitating to hold prime-time debates unless the incumbent agrees to participate.

I've held this view long before I ran: incumbents should be forced to debate. The best way of doing so is scheduling prime-time forums and holding them whether the incumbent shows up or not. If challengers are given time to discuss the issues and begin to reach voters, it won't be too long before incumbents decide they better get their say in as well. And that's good for the voters.