Trump-Biden Debate Prerequisite

Veteran New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has put forth a persuasive argument that Biden should declare that he will take part in a debate only if (i) Trump releases his tax returns for 2016 through 2018. (Biden has already done so. Why should Trump be given a free pass on hiding his finances?); and (ii) ten minutes before the scheduled conclusion of the debate independent fact checkers “report on any misleading statements, phony numbers or outright lies either candidate had uttered.”

Why should Trump, who, it is well established, is a serial liar, be allowed to lie, bluff, and bluster his way through the debate without being held to account? Biden can rebut him: “That’s just not true, Mr. President. That’s just not true,” again and again. But Trump will express outrage at Biden’s accusations, deny them, go off on tangents, and bring more lies to bear on what will amount to a brawl rather than a reasoned debate.

Trump won’t play by the rules voluntarily. He should be forced to. 

If Biden set such conditions, Trump will almost certainly opt out of the debates, claiming that Biden insisted on ridiculous conditions because he was afraid to debate him. They aren’t ridiculous. They make all the sense in the world. Most people would understand that.