Jake Turcotte

Postpone Thursday's debate because of moderator? Not yet...

Could we see another call to postpone the debate? This time it wouldn't be over a need to fly back to Washington to save the nation's financial sector; rather, it would be over the host of Thursday's vice presidential debate.

It's not like the Commission on Presidential Debates got all wacky and asked Jerry Springer to host it. It's PBS correspondent Gwen Ifill.

So what's the controversy? Like everyone, she's got a book to sell. And although it hasn't been released yet, it's the subject of the book that has some conservatives pretty upset. The subject? Only the Democratic nominee for President: Barack Obama.

The book, titled "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama," is set for release on - drumroll, please - Inauguration Day.


What's the book about? The publisher says, "In 'The Breakthrough,' veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama's stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African-American politicians forging a bold new path to political power."


Are conservatives howling? Some are. Hot Air's Michelle Malkin for example blew off some steam today.

"My dictionary defines 'moderator' as 'the nonpartisan presiding officer of a town meeting,' " Malkin writes. "On Thursday, PBS anchor Gwen Ifill will serve as moderator for the first and only vice-presidential debate. The stakes are high. The Commission on Presidential Debates, with the assent of the two campaigns, decided not to impose any guidelines on her duties or questions.

"But there is nothing 'moderate' about where Ifill stands on Barack Obama," she adds. "She’s so far in the tank for the Democratic presidential candidate, her oxygen delivery line is running out."

"It is not by any standard..."

So is McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt on the phone with reporters shredding PBS like he did to the New York Times two weeks ago? Nope.

In fact, the campaign doesn't seem to care. At least, Senator McCain didn't seemed concern this morning while speaking to Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron.

"I think that Gwen Ifill is a professional, and I think that she will do a totally objective job because she is a highly respected professional,” McCain said. "Does this help…if she has written a book that’s favorable to Senator Obama? Probably not. But I have confidence that Gwen Ifill will do a professional job, and I have that confidence."

But, think of it this way: If the McCain campaign says anything that suggests a concern, they'll be attacked as trying to weasel out of the debate somehow. That doesn't mean others can't say what they think though.

Ari Fleischer wonders...

In an email exchange with The Vote, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer asks:

"Will her upcoming book, which is due for release on 1/20/09, sell more copies under President Obama or President McCain?"


Fox News host Greta Van Susteren says game-over.

"I am stunned….the campaign (actually both) should have been told before the campaign agreed to have her moderate. It simply is not fair - in law, this would create a mistrial."

Nah, she's OK

Dan Schnur, former McCain staffer and current head of the USC's Institute of Politics, tells The Vote it's not a worry.

"She's a good journalist," Schnur said. "She'll play it straight."

Not bad

Regardless, this thing's going to happen. And although the bar has been set very low for Palin, you can bet the folks prepping Biden for the debate have watched the 2006 Alaska gubernatorial debate. In this video she doesn't look anything like her appearance on Couric's show.

In fact, she looks pretty formidable.

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