Monday, June 23, 2008

Mark Udall Wouldn't Join Online Debate Because of Me: The Rest of the Story

If you are one of the handful of people who have been following developments on this blog for months, you may remember that at one point we were working with liberal blogger David Thielen to co-sponsor an online debate between Mark Udall and Bob Schaffer.

In mid-February, David took the lead in sending out invitations to both camps, with my name attached to show that it was a bipartisan effort. On March 18, Bob Schaffer agreed to participate (see also here). Meanwhile, I was told that for weeks the Mark Udall team had dragged its feet and essentially said, "Maybe."

On several occasions I put up posts essentially asking "why in the world is Udall refusing to join a bipartisan online debate?" Well, at long last, here's the answer.

Two weeks after Bob Schaffer's acceptance - on April Fool's Day, in fact - David informed me of the Mark Udall team's official response. Out of deference to David's wishes, I didn't mention the email or divulge its contents publicly - that is, until this weekend when David gave me the green light to explain why Udall refused to join the debate those many weeks ago: The Boulder Democrat didn't want yours truly as the moderator. The alleged reason? The use of the tag "Udall as a Liar" on this blog.

I was quite flattered by the singular reputation I seemed to have acquired from the Mark Udall campaign, but deferentially refused to make public hay out of the matter. Behind-the-scenes negotiations were still under way. The Mark Udall team refused to back down. David mentioned the possibility of a certain anonymous conservative blogger stepping up to fill my place, but that wasn't acceptable. Both sides held firm, and the online debate never materialized.

The Mark Udall camp apparently remains alone in its opinion. As David wrote to me in an email: "I do think you are a reasonable choice and I don't think you are any more partisian than I am - that's why I asked you to do this." I likewise respect David as someone with whom I frequently disagree, but someone who is essentially fair and honest. Unlike Mark Udall surrogates who repeat lies online that this blog is anything but the independent and amateur (though admittedly biased) venture that it is.

David comes from a liberal point of view and often takes strongly critical stances against Bob Schaffer. This blog comes from a conservative point of view and often takes strongly critical stances against Mark Udall. Bob Schaffer isn't afraid of David Thielen. So why is Mark Udall afraid of me? (In all honesty, I hesitate to take this as the high compliment it would seem to be. I'm not sure of any reputable local conservative blogger whom Udall would accept as a debate co-moderator.)

The only question remaining is, Why did David give the go-ahead to disclose all of this now? (These are my best guesses.) First of all, as originally planned, the debate likely would have taken place by now, but no longer seems to be a possibility. Second, it may have something to do with David's newfound low regard for his candidate, whom he now refers to as "Milquetoast Mark."

As for my handful of readers, now you know the rest of the story.

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