Trump and Biden Should Debate

Admittedly, this assumes neither of them will be ill by the time the presidential debates roll around. At The Atlantic, Tom Nichols has a piece arguing that Trump shouldn’t be debated because he is beyond the pale: he is such a disgrace that he can’t and shouldn’t be treated like a normal candidate.

On the merits, he’s right, but that ignores an important political reality: every time people who aren’t Republicans see Trump, they are repulsed by him–and his support drops*. So, in principle, there shouldn’t be a debate, but politics requires there be one.

*One thing that likely helped Trump in 2016 was the end of the debates several weeks before the election–if there had been a debate a week before the election, he might not have won some of those squeakers.

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8 Responses to Trump and Biden Should Debate

  1. Gingerbaker says:

    Why should Biden debate a candidate who will not be allowed on the ballot?

  2. Gregory Paul Lanman says:

    I disagree. Biden should not waste his time or our nation’s time in giving any attention to someone who is disqualified from running for federal office according to the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution

  3. John says:

    Given how elections formally work, I don’t think that anyone can bar Trump from a state’s ballot if the state allows him on it. Some way, there would have to be some kind of process to disqualify Trump from office should he win the electoral vote.

    Who’s willing to enforce the 14th amendment, anyway? Look at how fast and urgently the Democratic-controlled House and the Department of Justice investigated this unprecedented attack on Congress.

    I’m not sure whether the results of a debate between Trump and Biden would be good or bad. There’s a saying dating from at least the Reagan years: Democrats win debates, Republicans win elections.

    • Gingerbaker says:

      Technically, no process is needed to keep Trump off the ballot – he is Constitutionally disqualified. In the real world, a state AG or elections officer can decide to not put him on the ballot, and Trump would have to sue. This would likely go to the SC, if there is enough time.

      • John says:

        Yes, it would be easy enough for a state officer to keep him off the ballot (hence my reference to the state allowing him on the ballot). The question is what happens if they don’t.

        One still needs some process to determine that Trump (or anyone) had engaged in the conduct. One’s own belief or personal knowledge doesn’t qualify.

  4. Ten Bears says:

    Operation Just Let Him Speak, give him all the attention he craves

  5. Charles Roten says:

    People with experience debating BS artists and conspiracy theorists generally counsel others to NOT debate these people.

    The critical problem problem is the fundamental asymmetry of the contest.

    Truth matters somewhat, even to Joe Biden. A guy like Trump doesn’t give a curse.

    So Trump can (and most certainly will) make up some story, totally on the fly, without a care in the world about whether it has any basis in fact whatsoever. Thus, he can reply immediately to any argument or refutation, much faster and with greater perceived surety than his opponent.

    Spend some time reading blogs written by people who deal with BS artists on a semi-professional basis, like David Gorski, who publishes in the blog “Respectful Insolence”, or David Neiwert, who has been reporting, on a professional basis, on the ultra-right wing for more than 30 years.

    Sooner or later, you’ll run across this guidance on the utility of “debates” with functioning psychopaths.

    It can be pruned down to just one word: “Don’t”.

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