So debate already
As the Nov. 4 election draws near, Illinois' U.S. Senate candidates ought to quit their sparring and start debating.
The official traditional starting date for general election campaign is Labor Day, a holiday in which voters have a chance to rest up in preparation for the nonsense to come.
But there's another sure sign — the debate about debates in which candidates engage. The candidate perceived to be trailing in the polls starts pressing his better-situated opponent for debates, lots of debates.
What's often the case though is that the candidate pushing for debates doesn't want the issue about his opponent refusing to debate almost as much as he wants the actual debates.
Take Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jim Oberweis. He's challenged veteran incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin to a series of debates. Durbin has agreed to one debate, but stated that he's willing to talk with Oberweis about more. But Durbin has tweaked Oberweis for only holding one low-key debate with his Republican primary opponent, Douglas Truax.
Durbin said Oberweis ought to be "more humble when he starts asserting his love of debates." In effect, Durbin is saying that Oberweis' reluctance to debate in the primary election justifies his own reluctance to debate in the general election.
But in taking that positions, Durbin is ignoring, just as Oberweis did in the primary, that it's not the candidates' preferred tactic that should take precedence.
What's important is that the voters have a chance to see and hear Durbin and Oberweis address the issues of the day and make their own judgments about the candidates they prefer.
Durbin is perceived to be the likely winner on Election Day, and it's understandable that he prefers to sit on his lead and try to run out the clock. If Oberweis was in Durbin's position, he'd probably want to do the same thing.
But candidates for such important offices have an obligation to appear together and discuss the issues, in a pointed but still polite fashion. It's our hope Durbin will recognize that duty and arrange with Oberweis for a series of joint appearances in various parts of Illinois that draw maximum TV, radio and newspaper coverage. Voters are entitled, at a minimum, to that consideration from those who seek their trust and their support.