You knew it was coming:
There will not be a debate between Trump and Biden. It will not happen. I’ve suspected this since June, once it became clear that the lockdowns would not be just a quick, temporary thing.
After the lockdown entered its third month, it was pretty obvious that the whole thing was an election year ploy that included a way for Biden to not have to debate or campaign.
However, the virus alone will not be enough of an excuse to get Biden out of the debates. Trump’s team will easily be able to accommodate a “socially distanced” debate. You don’t need a crowd. You just need the candidates, some staff, a moderator and a TV crew.
And then if even that get shot down by the Biden camp as “too risky,” then you can do virtual debates. This would obviously suck, but clearly no one could object to this on virus-related grounds. And the Biden camp could even feed him answers the whole time off-camera.
But the Biden campaign is determined to avoid any sort of debate–it’s not about the virus at all. The virus is the excuse.
So the NYTimes has another excuse:
Now it is true that Presidential debates did not became an election staple until 1976. The first real televised debate was, as we know, in 1960 between Nixon and Kennedy. But that would be the last debate until 1976, and every election since then has featured a debate or, as has become the trend in recent years, multiple debates.
The Lincoln-Douglas debates took place back in 1858, though most people probably think it was a presidential debate since Lincoln and Douglas would end up squaring off for the White House in 1860. But whether or not it was for President or Senate, the point is, debates have a long history in this country.
I’m under no illusions that the debates are anything other than a made for TV spectacle. The first debate itself proved this: TV viewers thought Kennedy won, while radio listeners thought Nixon won. It’s a matter of optics, charisma and screen presence–it’s almost as if the debates measure who’s a better television performer instead of who’s a better candidate for president.
Elections in general are made-for-TV spectacles, honestly. Have you noticed that just about every election in the cable news era (early 1990s-present) has been relatively close? Cable news is designed to keep the elections close in order to keep people hooked all the way until the Thrilling Conclusion of this season of The Presidential Campaign. Every election has to have drama, suspense and uncertainty.
This was not the case in the past. Prior to the rise of cable news–again, early 1990s–blowout elections were quite common.
But the reason we need a debate now in 2020 is because of how uniquely unfit for office the Democratic candidate is. In 2016 the first debate got over 84 million viewers and that was just online–it didn’t even count how many people were streaming online. The debates are often thought of as the moment when most “low information voters” get their first good looks at the candidates, and while that might not be as true today with social media and the generally increased focus on politics as a whole, the debates are the first time we get to see the candidates in as close to an unscripted, candid environment as possible. The debates allow us to really size up the candidates, and while most of us are already long since locked in to our choices, there are still those people who really can be swayed every four years.
Everyone needs to be able to see Joe Biden in a debate setting. They have to have full knowledge of who they’re voting for. They need to see this guy in all his glory. They need to see him struggle through the most basic sentences and forget rudimentary facts. They need to see him off-script and without handlers in his ear. They need to see him attempt to think on his feet.
In short, Joe Biden’s clearly deteriorated mental faculties need to be exposed for all the world to see.
And the debate is the only way that can happen, even though the leftwing network it airs on will probably be doing everything it can to prop him up, including giving his team the questions beforehand and having the moderators blatantly favor him.
In any other year, I would agree that the debates are over-hyped, made-for-TV spectacles that don’t really tell us who will be a better president.
But this year, we need a debate so the whole world can see how unfit for office Joe Biden is.