Trump Agrees to Debate Biden Twice, God Help Us All

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Trump Agrees to Debate Biden Twice, God Help Us All

Today, Joe Biden publicly challenged Donald Trump to two presidential debates and Donald Trump quickly accepted. The first will take place on June 27th on CNN at 9 p.m. ET in Atlanta, and the second is slated for the fall, with early September being the current target of the Biden camp. These debates will not be run by the Commission on Presidential Debates like they usually are, and it’s not because Trump has refused to work with them like he has threatened to in the past.

It was actually Biden’s team who circumvented these norms to establish a new paradigm, as they claimed the existing debates were “structured like an entertainment spectacle,” while Trump said “it is time for a debate to take place-even if it has to be held through the offices of the Commision on Presidential Debates, which are totally controlled by Democrats and who, as people remember, got caught cheating with me with debate sound levels.”

There will be some new rules like silencing microphones when candidates aren’t talking, but really the biggest impact this seems to have is ensuring that brain-wormed Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will be excluded from the debate stage (it was still unlikely given his current standing in the polls, but Decision Desk HQ’s polling average did have him above the 15% CPD threshold six months ago).

I am needling Biden’s team a bit here, as anyone who gets really worked up over norms surrounding the Commission on Presidential Debates needs to go touch grass, but it is one data point representing what norms the supposed norm respecter is willing to buck when he thinks it’s in his own interest (another is how Biden hasn’t followed norms on Israel policy set by presidents like Ronald Reagan and Dwight D. Eisenhower).

The June debate is far sooner than is typical, and it is clear this is a strategy laid out by the Biden camp to strike a contrast with Trump early in the campaign before the conventions.

This is gonna suck.

I was really hoping we would avoid this mess, and Trump would pull his typical “I totally want to do it, but the dog ate my homework” excuse. We do not need to see these two doddering old men whose brains are leaking out their ears yammer past each other in increasingly confused language. We already saw how this played out in 2020 (twice!), you think four years and a few tweaks to the format will make this shit any more coherent?

But that’s not the part I dread. There is still entertainment value in watching two politicians that history will not look kindly upon bicker and make fools of themselves. Their escalating desperation and anger will satiate the internet with memes for scores of years to come. The entertainment spectacle decried by the Biden camp is the only redeeming quality of this political TV show.

What I dread are the inevitable avalanche of takes out of the Beltway media industrial complex. The smug self-seriousness of The Atlantic and New York Times essays clutching their pearls at these bothsides norm destroyers are going to be intolerable. You can already see this engine revving up in the NYT in their “Updates From Our Reporters” section about this “extraordinary break with those norms.” If A.I. ever turns on us and enslaves humanity but deletes all of Bret Stephens and Jeffrey Goldberg’s columns from the internet forever, it would not have been a complete and total catastrophe for the world.

Political debates are one of those annoying quirks we’re forced to tolerate in this modern collapse of American soft power, where they once commanded real gravitas and still really do matter in a symbolic way. For all of Trump’s anti-democratic self-interested criminality and Biden’s complete and utter destruction of the post-WWII order with every child he and Benjamin Netanyahu kill in Gaza, they are both still agreeing to pretend to care about the appearance of democracy, intellectual debate and being held accountable to voters.

Presidential debates are important in the sense that they provide the candidates with an opportunity to argue over what this is really all about: power and how they will use it. Us lefties who decry the general abandonment of specific policy goals in the Democratic Party in favor of a wholehearted embrace of optics-based politics should theoretically love debates.

In the eyes of the corporate media, June 27th will be an immensely important date in modern American history, as both candidates in the Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes (Part IV) will get a chance to lay out their vision for America. Very Serious Journalists will be asking them The Tough Questions and this selfless act of public service for the citizens of this great country will help us define our future.

But we all know that’s not how debates go, especially not with these two schmucks. If you think that there is more to be gleaned about Trump’s mindset and priorities than he already willingly communicates every day in violation of his gag order that could send him to prison, you may have more brain damage than Trump does. Joe Biden is the president, and as every decent person reacting in horror to him aiding and abetting an Israeli genocide has said over and over: actions speak louder than words leaked on a regular schedule to favored stenographers assuring them he’s being really mean to Bibi behind closed doors.

Biden’s team can wax poetic about how this should not be an entertainment spectacle, but the last thing they want is real journalists asking the president actual tough questions, and not letting him hide behind his talking points. Debates are almost entirely scripted, as they are just a showcase for weeks of work from the RNC and DNC’s focus groups. They’re useless.

We’d be much better served by extended one-on-one live interviews with each candidate by a journalist and not someone who just plays one on TV. Instead, we’re forced to go through this charade where an entire industry’s economic interests are tilted towards pretending this is some kind of hallowed and serious affair, when the headline out of it inevitably will wind up being something like “Trump defends the size of his dick again.”

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