Saturday, August 1, 2020
Leverage The Debates?
After five years and more of exposure to sociopath and con man Donald "COVID Donnie" Trump's lawlessness, corruption, incompetence and bigotry, few should claim that they need to know more about his positions on issues: he blares them like a siren. Former VP Joe Biden has a long record to run on, and has been busy the past few months enunciating his position on issues from health care and the economy to social justice and policing reform. Both are the most known quantities politically in recent memory to run for the office. If you don't know the difference between the two, you've been in a coma for the past decade.
The Presidential debates have over the years devolved from a sober event into an entertainment spectacle pushed by the Beltway media supposedly to elucidate the candidates' positions on issues. Instead, it's become a quadrennial exercise in soundbite and gotcha preening on their parts ("flag pins", "Rev. Wright", etc.). If you look at the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton was by far the most prepared and impressive debater, but the reality show con man emerged unbowed nonetheless, after pulling some vicious stunts like filling the audience at one "debate" with Bill Clinton's accusers. He'll try something equally vile like that again. Finally, there's already skittishness about having the debates at all, with Notre Dame and the University of Michigan opting out of hosting them due to the Trump Virus.
Here's a modest proposal. We wonder what would happen if Biden made the following offer: Trump (and the Beltway media) can have debates in exchange for the release of Trump's taxes and financial records by Labor Day, fully fund and resource the U.S. Postal Service now to prevent a major breakdown in mail-in voting, and whatever else the Biden campaign can come up with. Biden's in the controlling position here, and yes, the Beltway media would complain (although they might want to see Trump's finances more, unlikely as that is). It could be presented as a legitimate trade-off, since Trump has given up nothing and will mount an especially dirty and dishonest campaign.
The odds of any of this happening are next to nil (especially getting Trump to expose his Russian underwriters and his tax fraud), and the die seems to have been cast for three debates. But perhaps Biden should try to get something in exchange for the debates that a trailing Trump wants badly. At a minimum, it would highlight the things that threaten Trump the most.