I ran into Vernon Jordan the other day at a New York Times party and he told me that the Bush/Cheney campaign team is dragging its feet on scheduling and planning the upcoming presidential debates. The Kerry camp has tapped Jordan to be its lead debate negotiator, hashing out with the Bushies when and where the debates will take place, as well as the topics to be covered and the format of each debate.
The only problem is, Team Bush seems like it's in no hurry to even discuss the matter -- much less lock in the details.
Here's the latest: the Commission on Presidential Debates (that quasi-independent organization formed by the two major parties in 1987 to replace the traditional League of Women Voters-sponsored debates -- and to keep any nasty third party candidates off the national debate stage) has offered up a debate schedule that includes three presidential debates and one vice presidential head-to-head. The commission plan calls for the debates to take place over a two-week stretch, starting on Sept. 30 and concluding on Oct. 13.
This week the Kerry/Edwards campaign agreed to the proposed schedule -- and is ready to begin negotiating the finer points of format, topics, moderators, and panelists. Jordan told me the plan is to have one town hall style debate and to divide the other two debates into foreign policy and domestic policy.
The trouble is, the Bush/Cheney campaign has privately let it be known that they don't even want to start talking about the debates until after the Republican National Convention ends on Sept. 2 ... which leaves less than a month to hash things out before the debates are supposed to start.
Of course, this is nothing new for the Bushies, who waited until the last minute before agreeing to three debates in 2000.
As interesting as the presidential debates should prove to be, I know that the debate I'm most looking forward to is the one between John Edwards and Dick Cheney. Cheney is a seasoned pro, but Edwards made a very successful career out of eating folks like Cheney for lunch in courtrooms all across America. He'll know exactly how to wield Halliburton like a stiletto. I give the V.P. 30 minutes before he tells Edwards to "go fuck himself" ... or as the Washington Times sanitized it: "perform an anatomical sexual impossibility."