ChrisWeigant.com

What's Next

[ Posted Wednesday, September 30th, 2020 – 16:25 UTC ]

You know why I want Joe Biden to win this election? Because I long to once again be bored with politics. I pine for those weeks when nothing at all happens -- where I have to think hard to even come up with a subject to write about. This used to happen with regularity, no matter which party was currently in control. But with Donald Trump as our president, it is impossible.

This more than anything else was the takeaway I got from last night's debate. America doesn't so much need a return to normalcy as it does a return to sanity. A return to a time when the president can be counted on not to be a world-class embarrassment. A return to facts meaning something once again. A return to an America where every decent person openly condemns white nationalist groups, without a second thought. Is this really asking too much?

But I'm going to shove all my own feelings about the debate's aftermath aside, because the entire punditocracy is already doing an admirable job surveying the smoking wreckage, for once. Few commentators are resorting to the easy crutch of "both-sides-ism" today, to put it another way. Joe Biden may have made minor misstatements last night, but Donald Trump spewed a pyroclastic flow of lies across the landscape, so the two really aren't comparable in any rational way. This morning, even Fox News was admitting that Donald Trump had had a bad night, and that it would behoove him to dial it back a bit in the next debates (if they even happen, which at this point is not an iron-clad certainty).

What can we expect next, if the debate schedule is adhered to by both candidates? Well, the next two debates were always going to be different, so there is indeed some hope. The second debate will be the vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, so there will be no Trumpian histrionics at all. No matter what you think of these two candidates, they are both quite capable of holding a rational debate. So there's that to look forward to.

There was one promising development after last night's spectacular trainwreck, and that is that the official debate commission is now hastily reviewing its debate rules with an eye towards making whatever changes are necessary to avoid a repeat performance. They have not identified any specific changes yet, just that they are reviewing everything (easy fix suggestion: give the moderator the power to turn off microphones). But there's a big hitch in this -- both campaigns will have to agree in advance to any new rules drawn up. If Team Trump doesn't like the new rules, then one of two things could happen: (1) the previously-agreed-to rules will be used instead, or (2) Trump will refuse to participate.

Even if the rules remain the same, the third debate (the second presidential debate) will be a town hall format, which (hopefully) will limit the ability of Trump to interrupt with the unhinged ferocity he showed last night. After all, in a town hall, average people in the audience are the ones who get to ask the questions, so the candidates will be having direct conversations with voters. If the other candidate tries to jump in, it will be seen as not disrespectful to his opponent or to the media, but disrespectful to the voters themselves. Hopefully this will provide some restraint (although this is in no way guaranteed, with Trump).

The final debate was supposed to be the same format that we had to endure last night. This is where the rules changes will be crucial, because if the rules remain the same, we can probably expect a repeat performance from Trump. Trump is quite obviously losing this race, so he can be counted on to get even more desperate as the election looms closer. Expecting any restraint from him at the end is almost certainly unrealistic, to put it mildly.

Last night's debate was one for the history books, that much is undeniable. It will go down in political history as the worst presidential debate of all time, in fact. Both journalism and political-science students will study it as the best bad example for decades to come. It will stand as the prime exhibit of "what not to do" to put on a presidential debate for a very long time indeed.

Or maybe not. There's always the possibility that Trump could outdo himself in the next two debates. After all, for almost four years (and counting), whenever you think: "That's it -- that's the absolute lowest Trump can possibly go," he turns right around and goes even lower. So there's always the chance that future students of political history will be taught: "The first Trump-Biden debate was bad, but the second and the third were even worse."

Let's hope not. Let's hope the debate commission comes up with some workable changes to avoid such a fate. Because I for one really don't want to have to sit through two more nights like the last one.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

58 Comments on “What's Next”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I understand that one of the "debates" will actually be a town hall format. Biden should do better.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Right. Like you wrote. Heh.

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    The final debate was supposed to be the same format that we had to endure last night. This is where the rules changes will be crucial, because if the rules remain the same, we can probably expect a repeat performance from Trump.

    Yep. I'm hoping that, by then, Biden will have figured out how to handle Trump and his antics. I want to see Biden destroy Trump. I'll settle for nothing less.

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @cw,

    Trump is quite obviously losing this race, so he can be counted on to get even more desperate as the election looms closer.

    i don't know if he's necessarily losing as obviously as you think. what IS obvious is that he THINKS he's losing, which is probably an even better predictor of his behavior.

    JL

  5. [5] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    well, it's october of an election year, and you know what THAT means.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You're scaring me!

  7. [7] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Wait, why would academics study this debate for decades to come, as a "best bad example" of "what not to do" when staging or conducting a presidential debate? What's the current "worst debate ever" that they've presumably been studying for the past few decades? Just as other scholars focus on the best art, best literature, and best science, I should think these guys would be still studying the best past debates, not wasting time on the worst ones.

    And what scholarship has come out of all that supposed study of the worst one (up til last night), that has informed later hosts and organizers of the quadrennial tradition and so has improved the format and results of more recent ones - like this one?

    It seems to me the only conclusion to "what not to do?" wouldn't be about microphones, or host's questions, or back and forth formatting, or open or closed questions, or even make-up and lighting. What not to do is have Donald Trump be the US president. Clearly, with any other candidate this debate would have been just as good, or stupid, as all the other recent ones where the game has become not to explain and debate the issues for better public understanding but to land the best 15-second 'gotcha' sound bite for endless replay for the remainder of the campaign.

    So there's an 80-page Ph.D. thesis or five to look forward to. Abstract: "Detailed research and study shows definitively that no imaginable presidential debate format can be sustained in the presence of a maniacally impulsive, rude, mendacious, desperate, and narcissistic candidate."

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So there's an 80-page Ph.D. thesis or five to look forward to. Abstract: "Detailed research and study shows definitively that no imaginable presidential debate format can be sustained in the presence of a maniacally impulsive, rude, mendacious, desperate, and narcissistic candidate."

    ... not to mention "that Trump is an erratic megalomaniac with decided know-nothing and neo-fascist tendencies."

    That fine description is courtesy of my other favourite Californian and political analyst, William Bradley. :)

  9. [9] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Those were the days when the GOP pretended to care about the the things that they didn't really care about!

  10. [10] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    A return to facts meaning something once again.

    Like when tax cuts paid for themselves and gay people getting married would bring on the end of the world?

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    you cannot make things foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

  12. [12] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    I may have to change my election forecast now that I've read a little more about that shitshow I didn't watch last night.

    The insulin epidemic was destroying families and the orange one has made it cheap like water. This could be a game changer.

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Heh.

  14. [14] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Well I sure appreciate the output, Mr. Weigant.

    Alas, you're correct about Trump having no apparent "bottom -- it can't get worse."

    Reviewing Trump's record I strongly suspect Trump is under the influence (if not outright control) of the Kremlin. Remember all the contact with Russia in 2016 and Trump trying (succeeding?) to set up a back channel to Putin?

    Trump has done a yuge amount of damage not only to America but also Putin's European adversaries. Either Putin is just incredibly lucky, or...

  15. [15] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    It is my strong conviction that America's decline began with Reagan and "keep cutting taxes on the wealthy." When the top marginal rate was 91% (WW2 on through the 50s and 60s) America built a solid middle class and GDP grew comparaively better than since 1981.

    Until the Progressivism has once again cyclically ascended and we undo Reaganism® (aaand... solving our racism issues) you should have plenty to write about, Amigo.

  16. [16] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Again, watch for Trump to start up conflict with (my guess) Iran at the end of October. You know, "October Surprise" and saucy.

    Trump is DESPARATE and needs to be reelected on order to run out the Statute of Limitations.

    I wonder if anybody is selling SDNY tee shirts and assorted swag.

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The Republican cult of economic failure ...

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Biden would be wise to mention that, a time or two ...

  19. [19] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Elizabeth see my [15].

    Joe might say, "Why have we been giving tax breaks to folks who don't need them? Going back to the 80s 'Trickle down' NEVER worked for anybody but the rich. It's past time to set taxes back to pre-Reagan times."

  20. [20] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    "The people who most benefit from our American economy should pay their fair share. We need infrastructure improvements along with a whole lot of other things in America, and the money ought to come from the folks who can more than afford it."

  21. [21] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    "By taxing the rich fairly we could get more money into the hands of the middle and lower classes who will spend it and that will create more jobs and opportunities than under our current Republican Cult of Economic Failure. How about an America that works for all of us instead of just an already privilidged few of us?"

  22. [22] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    How d'ya like them apples, Dear Elizabeth?

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    If Biden doesn't know how to make the case that Democrats are the best stewards of the economy, then he never will and he might as well recruit Geithner because the former Secretary of the Treasury sure knew how to call out the Republican cult of economic failure.

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Secretary Geithner would agree with you, MtnCaddy ...

  25. [25] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Only thing is, the Bernie Bro within me seriously questions whether Establishment Joe wants to go there.

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Elizabeth see my [15].

    So, what do you think provoked my [17]? :)

  27. [27] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    BTW my condolences on the Blue Jay's season ending this evening. My Detroit Tigers didn't make the playoffs so I've been cheering for Toronto, Cleveland and the Cubs.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Trust me, he will go there.

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I lost track of the Blue Jays a very long time ago.

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Have a great rest of the night, MtnCaddy - I'm done for the evening.

  31. [31] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [26]

    Gee, little ole moi? That's a compliment, my Good Woman.

    Not that it will ever happen but I'd love to someday meet some of our Weigantian posse, very much including you.

  32. [32] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    G'Nite, Elizabeth.

    G'Nite, John-boy MtnCaddy.

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Me, too. :)

  34. [34] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Here's a quote from The Atlantic article America’s Plastic Hour Is Upon Us.

    Beneath the dreary furor of the partisan wars, most Americans agree on fundamental issues facing the country. Large majorities say that government should ensure some form of universal health care, that it should do more to mitigate global warming, that the rich should pay higher taxes, that racial inequality is a significant problem, that workers should have the right to join unions, that immigrants are a good thing for American life, that the federal government is plagued by corruption. These majorities have remained strong for years. The readiness, the demand for action, is new.

    Joe or Bernie/Elizabeth could and should emphasize the broad agreement across Party lines. It's like (successfully) talking politics with my Trumpanzie buddy...I'm not afraid to refer to myself as a Loud and Proud Libtard because it makes him chuckle and lowers his defenses. And I look for these areas of agreement and emphasize how what we have in common dwarfs what we disagree on.


    We cannot outhate those were disagree with. We have to outlove them in order to heal our country.

  35. [35] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Day-yam, that's some good shit I just put down...and everybody's asleep.*sigh*

  36. [36] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Chris why don't you include

    Blockquote in your"Commenting Tips?

  37. [37] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [You know what symbol] blockquote[/You know what symbol] blockquote

  38. [38] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    ...and any other tricks that us Left Coast insomniacs can use to spiffy up our posts.

  39. [39] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [34]

    Another quote (thinking of Vous, Elizabeth) from the same article. This got me more enthused about Joe, and I highly recommend y'all read the whole article.

    Biden is proposing industrial policy—massive, targeted investment to restructure production for national goals—something that no president has openly embraced since the 1940s. His agenda would also give workers more power, with paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, a public option for health care, and an easier path to organizing and joining unions. It would more than double the federal minimum wage, to $15 an hour—a bitter point of dispute between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in 2016, now uncontroversial among Democrats. Free trade is hard to find on the agenda. For all Biden’s history as a centrist, his economic program would put an end to decades of Democratic incrementalism.

  40. [40] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Speaking of "y'all" Chris, what happened to the Troll formerly known as Michale? This Comments Section is so much nicer without him but I hope the poor bastard is okay.

  41. [41] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Beetlejuice.

  42. [42] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Well, you are right that we don't need a return to normalcy.

    We are experiencing normalcy right now. What we are experiencing right now is the culmination of the normalcy that we have been experiencing for forty plus years.

    And the reason that normalcy has evolved to what it is now is because all those times when there was nothing about the normalcy worth writing about you and the rest of the media didn't bother to take the time to explore ways to prevent the normalcy form evolving into what it is now.

    So what is next is more evolution in the wrong direction which will lead to more death and destruction of citizens and democracy.

    You are right that we need sanity, but wrong that we can return to sanity. We can't return to what we haven't had- at least in the 40 plus years that I have been voting.

    The lunatics (Deathocrats and Republikillers) are running the asylum and other lunatics (the media) are filling out the "progress" reports and the result is that the insanity that has got us where we are today is labeled as the sanity that will make us sane.

    To think that the 40 plus years of insanity that has reached it's LOGICAL CONCLUSION of Trump as president will achieve sanity by continuing the insanity is INSANE.

    "We have met the enemy- and he is us."
    -Pogo

    You need to accept the diagnosis and the needed treatment to achieve sanity- One Demand.

    Wake up. Wise up. Rise up.

    Get Real.

    Get SANE.

  43. [43] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    . . . if only Short Fingers would limit contributions to his campaign to Little Money donations of less than $201, sanity would be achieved!

    His narcissistic personality disorder and sociopathic dementia would just go away like the coronavirus and so would all the Big Dark Money that his campaign can't accept in the first place.

    Snort up. Shoot up. Meth up.

    Get high.

    Drop DEAD.

  44. [44] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Heh

  45. [45] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW - "easy fix suggestion: give the moderator the power to turn off microphones."

    It's not that easy. Even if Trump agrees - and I don't believe he will, turning off his microphone won't help. He'll simply walk over to Biden's podium and bellow. Who is going to restrain him? Do we want a fist fight between the candidates? If we get one, will it remain confined to the candidates, or will the audience decide to participate?

    Are the debate overseers prepared for a full scale riot town hall riot? Trump, and a substantial fraction of his Trumpsters, would love that! Trump will not follow any rules. He never has, he never will. How many times to we have get hit over the head with the hammer before we accept this?

    Trump is lawless by nature. It's a history. The only solution is physical separation of the candidates, locks on their cages, and equally metered candidate access to the sound system. Is the end result worth the bother? I say no!

  46. [46] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Stig nailed it right there [45] folks. Ain't no hope for a civilized debate, because the orange moron just ain't civilized!

  47. [47] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    This sad first debate highlights (lowlights?) the general uselessness of "debates" to start with. As somebody above said, what we settle for as substitute for a real kitchen table/YouTube/Lincoln-Douglas type debate is a 90-minute exercise in,

    (1) not drooling on oneself nor otherwise scaring the electorate, and,

    (2) uttering the catchiest sound bite/zingiest retort.

    And this was before Cheetogod's performance.

  48. [48] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Another thing to consider: a TV debate is basically a form of free advertising. Biden has a lot of money to spend on ads - Trump is cash poor. Trump needs the debate a LOT more than Biden does. So Biden should not give an inch to Trump - Biden should be thrilled if the remaining debates are cancelled...and negotiate from that position. If the debates are cancelled because Trumpo The Ill-Tempered Clown doesn't get what he wants, that's a win for Biden. Televised debates are obsolete as black powder muskets.

    For the record, the seven(!!!) Lincoln Douglas "debates" were more like competing speeches than debates as we now know them. There was no mic to hog - and very few in the audience could actually what the candidates said. Reporters took notes and newspapers published reconstructions of what was the candidates said.

  49. [49] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Department of Today's Lincoln Project Offering, Focus Group.

  50. [50] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    The Stig

    It's not that easy. Even if Trump agrees - and I don't believe he will, turning off his microphone won't help. He'll simply walk over to Biden's podium and bellow. Who is going to restrain him? Do we want a fist fight between the candidates?

    I gotta disagree with ya...because Trump knows that Biden very likely would punch Trump right in the kisser! Trump is a coward’s coward! Trump’s ego could not handle that sort of humiliation — the truth that Trump is a giant wussy who cannot back up his tough guy words —as it would destroy him! Trump cannot handle actually telling someone that they are fired, despite what the Apprentice made millions of Americans believe. He has to do it via tweet or have someone else do it for him (remember Omarosa recorded her phone call to him after Kelly fired her and Trump acted like he had no idea that was happening?).

    Cutting off the microphone only works if both candidates are in soundproof booths where they can be completely muted.

  51. [51] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [48]

    Thanks for the Lincoln-Douglas FYI!

  52. [52] 
    TheStig wrote:

    LWYH-

    "Trump is a giant wussy who cannot back up his tough guy words"

    Correct - he relies on flunkies to back up his tough talk. These flunkies tend to be lawyers rather than boxers.

    Trump is a tub of guts* - overweight and out of shape. He is frequently tentative in his walking gait , especially up or down hill. From what I've heard, he can hit a long ball in golf...but not accurately. Trump was a legendary military school athlete - but the legend is notoriously resistant to written confirmation.

    Biden works out and is good shape for his age. If it comes down to a boxing match, Biden might well get one punch in before the Secret Service restrains him. After that, I don't what the Hell happens. The Secret Service doesn't generally handle Gerry Springer-esque riots. I doubt it is something they train for. I have friend at the gym who is a serving FBI agent, he may have some insights.

    * Trump's body type is remarkably similar to Homer Simpson's - "look at that blubber fly!"

  53. [53] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Isn't Biden protected by Secret Service at this point, just as Trump is?

    "My Secret Service agent can beat up your Secret Service agent! Nyah nyah nyah!"

    That said, something in me responds with a thrill to the image of Uncle Joe decking the president on live TV. Tch, tch, and me against violence and all.

  54. [54] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris
    42

    You need to accept the diagnosis and the needed treatment to achieve sanity- One Demand.

    Wake up. Wise up. Rise up.

    Get Real.

    Get SANE.

    Wasn't Don Harris asked to stop advertising his personal monomaniacal crusade on this website? Isn't it kind of the height of batshit craziness that he's still doing it?

  55. [55] 
    Kick wrote:

    John From Censornati
    43

    . . . if only Short Fingers would limit contributions to his campaign to Little Money donations of less than $201, sanity would be achieved!

    On the flipside, maybe Don Harris will disappear if everyone limited their contributions to less than $1.00 until his advertisements are gone from this forum. If Don Harris won't change his own singular behavior on this blog, then I cannot fathom why he would believe the utter asinine proposition that he's "discovered" some "magic bullet" whereby millions of other people in America will change their behavior because of his "idea." It's stunning in its reeking stupidity.

    His narcissistic personality disorder and sociopathic dementia would just go away like the coronavirus and so would all the Big Dark Money that his campaign can't accept in the first place.

    Yep. Like magic. I won't change my behavior one iota when asked, but I have an idea that will transform everybody else associated with American democracy:

    Light up. Bake up. Eat up.

    GET WEED.


    ____________________00__________________
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    ________0000______000000______00000_____
    ________000000____0000000___0000000_____
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    ____0000_____000000_000_0000__000000000_
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    ____________0000000000000000____________
    _________________000_0_0000_____________
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    ______________00_____0______00__________
    ________________________________________

    *
    Snort up. Shoot up. Meth up.

    Get high.

    Drop DEAD.

    An even better idea! :)

  56. [56] 
    Kick wrote:

    MtnCaddy
    49

    Department of Today's Lincoln Project Offering, Focus Group.

    Crackhead! Heh.

  57. [57] 
    Kick wrote:

    ListenWhenYouHear | TheStig
    50 | 52

    Yep!

  58. [58] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:
Comments for this article are closed.