UPDATE: As proof that this idea is not crazy, allow me to point out that Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol is thinking the same thing:
"As for the question of Friday night's debate, which some in the media seem to think more important than saving the financial system--if the negotiations are still going on in D.C., McCain should offer to send Palin to debate Obama!"
I'm interrupting our regularly scheduled program (a column on Franklin Roosevelt), to bring you my thoughts on the temporary suspension of the McCain-Palin campaign and the looming showdown over the first presidential debate. Obviously, McCain is going back to the Senate to participate in the negotiations over the bailout proposal, which could theoretically go long into the night on Friday and at the very least will bring his debate prep to a screeching halt. This is the right thing to do, and frankly I think that Senator Obama should have done the same thing; the debate is far less important than breaking the logjam on this emergency legislation. But, of course, the Gentleman from Illinois is insisting that the debate go on as planned, and it appears that his campaign is salivating over the prospect of potentially putting their man on stage alone.
This leaves McCain in a tricky position. If he has the courage to stay at work, Obama could turn the "debate" into an infomercial and harangue McCain for not coming. If he shows up, however, he will be going back on his word and possibly letting the negations disintegrate at the eleventh hour. While most people think that this puts McCain's back to the wall, they are failing to consider a third potential option: McCain could stay at work and offer to send Gov. Palin as a surrogate if Obama continues his temper-tantrum.
I know that this sounds rather crazy, but work with me here. I promise….I am not saying this just because I'm a Palinite. Offering to allow Sarah to debate Obama could conceivably produce three possible results
A) Obama rejects the offer and throws a hissy fit - Under this scenario, Obama would be forced to pull out of the debate himself, allowing him to be in Washington for the negotiations and ruining his infomercial
B) The CPD (Commission on Presidential Debates) refuses to allow a surrogate and gives Obama his infomercial anyway – This sets the stage for protests, accusations of bias, and a very messy situation if Sarah shows up at the hall. I doubt that the CPD would be this stupid, as it would jeopardize their reputation in the future.
C) Obama accepts – The novelty factor would likely produce one of the most-watched debates ever. Expectations for Palin, who will have had only days to prepare, will be so low that anything short of a complete meltdown will likely be deemed a success. Plus, Palin is already prepping to debate Joe Biden, who I would classify as a tougher opponent than Senator Obama himself.
As a bonus, simply making the offer would totally undermine the idea that McCain is "hiding" Palin from the world. In fact, it would invite criticism based on the idea that McCain would be exposing his "delicate" running mate to excessive stress (and it's always good for the GOP when the media suddenly has to reverse their arguments).
Now, is this necessarily going to happen? I don't know, but I think that it is something that the McCain campaign should seriously consider. It would reinforce the notion of McCain as the ultimate maverick and turn the race on its head for the second time in a month. Otherwise, Sen. McCain is placing himself in a danged-if-he-does, danged –if-he-doesn't situation. So, please, if Obama wants a circus, let's give him one by forcing him to take on Sarah face to face!