John McCain will be doing the nation a disservice if he skips the Friday night debate, said the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune in an editorial. He wants the event postponed until Washington has hammered out a fix for the financial crisis. But Americans are more worried than ever, and they deserve “to hear more from the candidates for president, not less.”

Ditching the debate would be a big mistake for McCain, said Walter Shapiro in Salon. Even many Republicans have ridiculed his “hardline position.” But it’s his opponent, Barack Obama, as a freshman senator, who “has the most to gain or lose” when the candidates finally face off.

Actions are more important than a few hours of talk, said William Kristol in The Weekly Standard online. And if McCain’s decisive and risky stand helps bring about a deal to save the financial system, “he’ll benefit politically, and he deserves to.”

The debates of 2008 will happen, eventually, said Marie Cocco in the Indianapolis Star, regardless of McCain’s “gambit” of holding them hostage. As usual, the candidate with the most “mordant sound bites” and the fewest gaffes will win. The question is whether this is “any way to pick a president.”