Todd Akin calling "dueling" 700-word essays on The Beacon a "debate" is laughable. In fact, Akin submitted only essays that were on topics that he initiated. When his Democratic opponent Arthur Lieber suggested--and submitted--an essay on "Lessons from the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement," Akin did not respond. If it's not a topic he controls, apparently, Akin's not interested. That's not debate.
Lieber filed for office in the 2nd District as an act of democracy, knowing that he was a longshot, but intent on making sure that voters and constituents had an opportunity to hear more than one side of the issues and to have a choice and a voice. Akin's unwillingness to have a real dialogue deprives voters of the opportunity to hear his viewpoint, think about the issues, and make intelligent decisions.
I'm sure that Akin believes that he's a shoo-in for re-election, and he may have those numbers right. And I'm realistic enough to know that incumbents who are expected to win big don't want to risk a debate where they might say something that could jeopardize a sure thing. But if Akin has such a total lock on the election, why not use the League of Women Voters forum as a showcase for the agenda that he's so certain is correct, and serve democracy at the same time?