The debate you didn’t see last night

    Okay, I’ll be the only journalist in America this morning who isn’t writing about last night’s presidential debate. I trust you can find plenty of opinions about that.

    Instead, here’s an observation about the absence of debates in the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race, where incumbent Democrat Bob Casey faces Republican Tom Smith.

    It’s not unusual to see no debates well into a race between a well-known incumbent and a little-known challenger. But you usually at least see a debate about the absence of debates. The underdog normally challenges the incumbent to a series of debates, and calls him a coward when he dodges.

    But in this case, both candidates seem content to avoid a face-off. What gives?

    It would be too easy to say that listening to these guys is a natural sedative, but it’s been said.

    What’s really going on is this: Casey has followed the frontrunner’s standard approach of ignoring his opponent, hoping the public will forget there’s a race and return him to office in a walk.

    Smith, who should be demanding debates, probably doesn’t really want them. He’s pretty new to this politics thing, and in Republican primary debates he tended to answer off the cuff, sometimes letting things slip that weren’t helpful.

    Plus, he’s got something better to do – spend his own money (over $7 million and counting) on ads that will get his name known and bloody Casey. According to recent polls, he’s made some headway.

    If current trends continue, when Casey and Smith finally do meet on stage, there might actually be something at stake.

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