Surprising no one, Democrats and establishment media have begun to agitate for the elimination of presidential debates. The New York Times laid down its first marker with this opinion piece by Elizabeth Drew.
It’s typical of the contemporary left not to argue the specific case at hand (Joe Biden should not debate Donald Trump), but rather discover some grand principle necessitating the very course of action they favor (“presidential debates have become unrevealing quip contests” and should be canceled).
Everyone who’s been paying attention knows that something is off with the former vice-president, and we all know he’s not hunkered down in his basement just to stay safe from Corona. Even if Biden is better than ever, enough people now believe that something is off that it would behoove his campaign to give supporters a sign that he’s as sharp, incisive, and quick on his feet as he’s ever been. (A lower bar is hard to imagine.)
Shouting for an end to the presidential quip contests will probably produce the opposite of the intended effect: it will reinforce the doubts of those who already believe that Biden’s not all there, and may raise doubts even among the faithful.
Here is what we have been told by the left for the past four years: Donald Trump is an unpresidential idiot. We’ve also been told that Joe Biden is a solidly presidential fellow. If you’re a Biden supporter and you know Biden is at the top of his game, why would you not want to give Biden a chance to strut his presidential stuff on stage with the Bad Orange Buffoon, where he would surely mop the floor with Trump while reassuring everyone that he’s the same old Joe?
Even Elizabeth Drew says in the linked article that she has no worries about Trump besting Biden in a debate; he’s done so well in so many debates in the past!
This, by the way, isn’t written out of any concern that Donald Trump will prevail over Joe Biden in the debates; Mr. Biden has done just fine in a long string of such contests.
It’s not written out of concern that Trump will defeat Biden, she says, but that’s not what people are concerned about: people are concerned that Biden will be revealed as mentally unfit. And his having “done just fine” in the past is irrelevant to the question at hand, which is: can he do just fine now?
So allow me a couple of predictions: these trial balloons having flown, we’re now going to experience a steady drumbeat from the Democrats and the establishment media to cancel the debates. It’s going to be something you see, hear, and read with increasing regularity. The Danish media will jump right aboard, and begin explaining to Danes why American presidential debates are really a silly thing, all sound and fury and signifying nothing, a distraction from important issues, a recent innovation with no real history, a cheapening of public discourse, and so on. To the extent the Danish media even touch the issue of Biden’s competence, it will only be in the familiar “Republicans Pounce” format—something like, “Republicans claim without evidence that the former vice president hopes to avoid debates in order to conceal what they believe is ongoing mental deterioration.”
(The “Republicans Pounce” formulation is used to whitewash Democrat misdeeds in ways Republican misdeeds never would be. That is, if a Republican does something bad, the establishment media will run with a headline that says so: “Republican Senator Jones Did Bad,” but if a Democrat does something bad, the establishment media will go with something like, “Republicans Pounce on Accusations that Senator Smith Did Bad.”)
I won’t say any more about it, and I’ll be happy to see myself proved wrong.
Surprised, but happy.