Presidential Debates


For a while I thought it would be a bad idea for Biden to debate Trump. Debates are only useful when those taking opposed positions agree to argue in good faith and be truthful. Trump would not be truthful. That’s not his way. His way is to invent fabrications and deliver them in a sneering belittling tone. I’ve changed my mind, and now favor debates if certain rules are followed and strictly enforced.

Trump has become increasingly incoherent and crazed. And I now think that, in debates, the contrast between Trump’s swaggering viciousness and Biden’s competence and good will would be illuminating to many voters. To ensure a reasonable measure of decorum and civility to the debates, I would insist on strict rules, including, not just warning each candidate not to go over allotted speaking times and not to interrupt during his opponent’s speaking time, but to instantly cut off the mic of anyone violating the rule and ensure that he couldn’t be heard even if he shouts. And I would require each candidate to stay in place — no stalking around the opponent the way Trump did with Hilary Clinton in 2016. Violations would result in reduced allotted speaking time.