John McCain has made Barack Obama an offer he shouldn't refuse if he is serious about breaking with politics as usual.
The day after Obama effectively wrapped up the Democratic nomination, McCain challenged him to a series of town hall forums. The two would fly across the country, maybe even in the same plane to save fuel, and answer questions from private citizens in 10 different cities.
We can't see any reason for Obama to reject the idea. Even if it's not practical for the summer months — voters are still suffering from primary fatigue — there is no reason not to try it in the fall general election. It would be a refreshing change from the journalist-moderated "debates'' that dominated the primary races.
Instead of George Stephanopoulos and Anderson Cooper grilling the two on whether they would call themselves "very patriotic" or "very, very patriotic," we'll have Tom Smith of Toledo, Ohio, and Jane Brown of Lutz asking them how they plan to help ordinary citizens deal with home foreclosures, health care costs and the affordability of college for their children. The candidates might resort to their stock answers, but sometimes ordinary citizens come up with questions that would never occur to Washington pundits or television's blow-dried blowhards.
McCain has proposed that the first forum be held on June 12 in New York City. He is still waiting for Obama's answer. This would be a first in modern presidential campaigning, and if Obama means it when he says he wants to lift politics to higher ground, there is no better way to show it than by accepting McCain's invitation to hit the road together.